Gameday Conference Semifinals #4: @ Ottawa Senators

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ Ottawa Senators

Scotiabank Place, 7:30 PM, NBC Sports, CBC, RDS, 105.9 the X

In Game 3 the Penguins were 28.6 seconds from a 3-0 lead over the Senators. Now they can only claim a 2-1 advantage. Perhaps the most crippling aspect of that loss is the way it has continued to taint the air around Pittsburgh. You still can’t listen to the radio, read the paper, look at the Internet, or watch TV without being inundated with “experts” blabbering on about what the Penguins should have done, who was to blame, and how that one loss ruined all hopes of ever winning another hockey game forever.

But all that’s past us now. The guys on the ice get to go back to doing what matters: playing hockey and trying to win a game. And we have very little reason to believe that the Penguins will approach today’s game with any other mindset. This has become a series but the Pens still have it in their power to end that thought tonight.

There could be a number of changes to the Penguins’ lineup tonight. We would be absolutely shocked to see Tanner Glass play again this postseason. In fact we might be surprised to see him ever wear a Penguins uniform again. In a game that lasted more than 87 minutes Glass failed to even play 10 of it. When he was on the ice he took a horribly needless penalty against a guy in his first game back after back surgery and generally speaking he was a waste of space. The only thing that is more shocking than how bad Glass played is this little tidbit from Rossi:

rossi-joeyv

The assumption had been that Vitale was scratched for injury considerations, and that Jokinen didn’t play in his place for the same reasons. Turns out we were wrong. Something compelled Bylsma to play Tanner Glass, and that’s almost more inexcusable than choosing to keep his first power play on the ice with a minute and a half left in a game they led 1-0.

Yesterday Brenden Morrow left practice and did not return. Bylsma failed to comment on whether it was a serious injury or anything like that. He also didn’t take the morning skate but it was optional. Assuming both of those players are out that gives you two forward positions to fill. One of them has to be Jussi Jokinen. One area where the Penguins have been getting slaughtered is on faceoffs, Jokinen is over 65% on faceoffs in the postseason, that’s almost unheard of. Yohe chimed in with a good piece on him today. As for the second spot, I would certainly give the nod to Vitale. All he really did was add spark to a team that has desperately needed it. His 56.1% faceoff record in the four games he’s been in is second best on the team behind only Jussi and his forecheck has been some of the best defense the Pens have mustered all series.

If by some chance the Pens feel that they need a true winger to step in for Morrow than Beau Bennett could be a good fit. If Craig Anderson continues to play the way he did in Game 3, the Pens will likely need more offense, and unlike most teams in the league they can add it. A new look fourth line of Bennett-Jokinen-Kennedy is pretty frightening for it’s cycling and skill. That would do a lot to wear down a Senators defense that would also have to deal with Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal. Also, hopefully, the lines will go back to looking like this:

You know, like they did at the end of the Isles series and into Game 1 of this series. No changes are expected amongst the defense and goaltending.

Don’t stupid. Go Pens.

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