Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Playoff Game #4 - at Tampa Bay Lightning

Playoff Game 4
Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh leads series 2-1.

The Bolts desperately need a win on home ice. A loss today would almost certainly doom their chances.

The Pens will be chomping at the bit to show off that killer instinct. They'll want to be able to put the Lightning down and keep them there.

This is likely to be one heck of a game.

The Pens will miss the services of Chris Kunitz, who has been suspended for one game after an ill-advised elbow to the head of Simon Gagne. This is a significant loss for the Pens, as Kunitz was one of the top forwards in terms of ice time. Mike Comrie or Eric Tangradi are the likely replacements. Heck, if you could somehow combine the two and get Tangradi's size and speed with Comrie's veteran awareness, you'd have something. As it stands now, both players have weaknesses.

The Bolts will be without Steve Downie, and while he brings a physical element, the loss isn't as big, given that he normally plays less than ten minutes per game. The interesting thing is that the Lightning are considering a seventh defenseman instead of another forward. Marc-Andre Bergeron can bring more offense from the blue line, but I'm not sure I'd want to go with one less forward given that Ryan Malone seems to be banged up as well.

Game 3 didn't see too much trapping, mainly because the Lightning were behind for all but six minutes of the game. When we did see the trap, the Pens were able to employ their new tactic of two forwards in deep on the forecheck. I'd look for that to get better tonight.

The Bolts have managed only two goals at even-strength through the first three games. The key to this one is staying out of the box. No dumb penalties, and don't put yourself in a position where the refs can make a stupid call (ie, Kovalev on the goaltender interference).

I'm looking for a goal from James Neal and a Penguins victory.

Let's Go Pens!

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