Saturday, February 19, 2011

Game #60 - at Chicago Blackhawks

Game 60
Penguins (36-19-4, 76 points) at Blackhawks (29-23-6, 64 points)

Why does it matter?
This is a big time nationally televised hurdle that the Pens will have to get over. The Hawks are sitting out of the playoffs at this moment and would love to make a statement that they're still alive and kicking.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - A nice rebound win over Colorado on Wednesday after last weekend's New York debacle.
  • Blackhawks - A month ago, it looked like they had the ship righted and then they go out and lose 7 out of 10 games, capped by a home loss to Columbus on Friday night.
Questions to be answered
  • Could the defending Stanley Cup Champions miss the playoffs? If they do, they'll certainly be held up as the poster boys for salary cap mismanagement.
  • Can the Pens take advantage of a very leaky Chicago PK?
  • How can a team that has a +20 goal differential (good for fourth in the West) be in 11th place in the conference?
Keys to the game
  • Keep them to the outside. Let Chicago take as many long range shots as they like - don't give them the middle of the ice.
  • Stay out of the box. If Chicago has a strength, it is their power play, which is second in the NHL at 24%.
  • Keep grinding it out. Matt Cooke will return to the lineup, which should make some of the grinding easier.

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