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.


The Predators were well coached up in taking away the wall on the Penguins breakout all night. In the first period you saw the Penguins stretch their centermen up the middle of the ice and hit for it a couple times on long passes through the neutral zone but Pittsburgh’s ‘D’ rushed things too often with the Predators speed on the forecheck and we’re basically handing the puck to the Predators on the wall.

A lot of eyes tonight will be on how the Penguins adjust to Nashville taking away the wall.

This is a fixable issue for the Penguins and maybe more so than how Nashville out-muscled the Penguins below the dots and created screens all game by getting better position on the Penguins D.

Pittsburgh hasn’t seen a group yet with a combination of speed and size from their forward group than what Nashville has.

“We expect a big push from them,” said Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said Tuesday of the Penguins. “We’re going to have to be even better. We know that wasn’t their ‘A’ game. We’re going to see a lot better from them. Hopefully we can continue to do the right things and get better.”

— The player under the microscope for Game 2 is without a doubt Phil Kessel

It’s hard to play a worst game than Kessel played in Game 1. He’s getting crushed by the media and he got it from the coaching staff.

The little things is what led to him being benched in Game 1.

Coaches were furious with how he was tracking back and not going into his right lanes on the breakout.[/hide]