Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh leads series 3-1.
The Pens have a chance to close out the series at home today. Over the past two seasons, the Pens haven't closed out any of the six series they were in at home (though they won five of them on the road in the next game). In 2007-08, they did close out a few on home ice. It's really a matter of sample size and I don't view it as really significant, to be honest.
Having said that, you certainly don't want to go back to Tampa Bay to play Game 6. Hopefully they can pull some memories of last year, when they faced Ottawa in the exact same circumstance in Round 1 and lost.
If I'm a Tampa Bay fan, I'm thinking that if the team can find a way to steal Game 5, then I like their chances. That's mainly because you'd have to like their odds at home in Game 6, and then you'd be going into Game 7 with a winning streak, and anything could happen.
Chris Kunitz will play today. HCDB hasn't said who will sit, but your obvious choice is Eric Tangradi. Other choices would include Mike Rupp or Aaron Asham, but both have been successful in this first round series (Rupp with faceoffs and hitting, and Asham in scoring) so I think it'll be Tangradi.
The Lightning will welcome back PFC Downie and Guy Boucher finally seems set to roll with seven defense and eleven forwards. I guess when you play Ritola just four shifts and a little over two minutes in Game 4, it doesn't really matter if he's there.
The Pens will need to be ready to match a whole new level of desperation. Building a lead will help make that easier to deal with as the game goes on. Stay out of the box and keep peppering Roloson and things will go well, I think.
Let's Go Pens!