The Pittsburgh Penguins lost another overtime game on Saturday to Ottawa in the first game of their series. That was also their third loss in the last four games and yet another close loss to Ottawa. I came into the series figuring it was going to be difficult, not because of the Sens talent level, but because of how they play. The Pens are far and away the better team, but Ottawa is a bad matchup for them in this round of the playoffs. Let’s take a look at what the Pens have to do in order to leave game two with a win.
First: This is such a Pittsburgh thing for me to say, but they absolutely need to shoot more. (Shoot the Puck!) Passing up on opportunities time and again looking for a pretty play is what caused this team to lose in the playoffs year after year in the Dan Bylsma era. I don’t mean shooting for shooting sake though because Just putting pucks on net regardless of the situation is also not the answer. Malkin can not go an entire game without taking a shot. Yes, he scored on a tip in, but shots to that point were nil. That was just one example of this situation.
Second: Patience is a necessity with the Sens. They are waiting for the Pens to blink first in every game and take advantage of every mistake. They did that in game one and scored the first goal of the game, and could have scored more if it was not for Fleury and the post. They need to limit turnovers in their end and control the puck.
Third: Take advantage of the Power Play. That does not mean score on every PP, though that would be terrific. This is the one time during the game they need to pepper Anderson with as many shots as possible. To keep getting those power plays they need to Utilize that speed and push the envelope, just don’t go overboard.
Be judicious with the puck on the power play near the blue line as the Sens had several short-handed opportunities against Fleury. In years past, I would like Fleury one on one including in overtime or shootout situations. And even though he has been nearly flawless this spring, one on one is where he has Not been as strong. And please, Fleury fans, that is not a knock on him. Just an observation. He has been terrific and the reason they are where they are.
Four: It is okay to use a combination of skating into the Sens zone or playing dump and chase. But whatever they are going to do at any given moment, they need to commit to it as a line in every situation. The Senators live in the neutral zone and are as good there as any team in recent past. Couple that with having Karlsson, it makes for a dangerous team for the Pens to play against.
Five: And yes, this is an extension of one other note above. Karlsson can not lead all players in shots if the Pens are going to win. He will get his shots for sure, but Pittsburgh needs to shoot more, and that means their stars.
Those are five quick thoughts on tonight’s game. We will see how it pans out