Stanley Cup Final: Lucky or not Pens are 3 wins away
In the Stanley Cup Final, it doesn’t matter how you get to four wins.
The Penguins are three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup Final and the Predators are four wins away entering Wednesday’s Game 2.
Pittsburgh might be the luckiest team in the NHL but they don’t put an asterisk next to the Stanley Cup if you’re deemed lucky.
“They won the game. I’d rather be up 1-0,”Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Just cuts down our opportunity to win four games.”
To beat the Pittsburgh Penguins you can’t beat yourself and you have to be able to weather any storm for a particular short stretch they’re bound to take over a game.
As great as Nashville was in Game 1, the combination of both above gave Pittsburgh an instance where they won a Stanley Cup Final game with 12 shots. Really 10 true shots when you factor in the empty net goal and the Bonino one handed flutter.
Game 1 was a little overboard in how badly the Penguins were outplayed and obviously not a precedent of how to continue winning, but the Penguins can take advantage of bad goaltending and defensive miscues better than any hockey club and it’s why they’re so hard to beat in a seven game series.
“We hate the score, we hate the result. We will move forward,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after Game 1 of his hockey club.
The Jake Guentzel game winning goal, Pittsburgh burns Nashville with bad puck management in the neutral zone. That’s what they do.
The Conor Sheary goal, Pittsburgh got Nashville running around defensively off a pinch from Brian Dumoulin and how this play developed is an area the Penguins can keep exposing Nashville. That’s if of course they provide fast enough pressure on the forecheck, an area the Penguins have talked about improving for Game 2.
Tape on Nashville shows from previous playoff games if you get possession against them along the wall, their susceptible to leaving soft lanes open as they often overload to the puck carrier and the weak side forward loves to head up ice at the first sign that the d-man might be gaining possession.
What Penguins must change for Game 2
Despite the game 1 win, Pittsburgh is the club for Game 2 forced to make key adjustments, while Nashville will look to stay the course.
One Penguins source says the Predators closing speed caught the Penguins off-guard that hindered their puck management game in all three zones.
An area the Penguins must rectify is letting Nashville be so aggressive in the net-front area.
They were in Matt Murray’s sight lines all game whether it was during 5 vs 5 play or on the power play.
How Game 1 was called was how a playoff game should be called. The stick penalties were being called but what favored Nashville was the stuff being let in go in front of the net. They made a focus of bumping Matt Murray at every opportunity they had.
On the Sissons power play goal, James Neal clobbers Murray seconds after the puck goes in. Those calls need to be made but until they are, Nashville will keep attacking the front of the net in the manner they did.
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Pittsburgh’s struggles on the breakout for most of the postseason caught up to them despite the win.
“I thought we did a good job with our gaps, ” Laviolette said.
What Nashville did in Game 1 was nothing more than studying film and taking away a key area the Penguins like to attack from.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"