Saturday, February 25, 2012

Game #61 - vs Tampa Bay Lightning

2011-12 Game 61

Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-6, 60 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (34-21-5, 73 points)

Somebody asked for a decent backup goalie?  Roloson is a UFA after this year and he would be cheap.

Why does it matter?

This is the last weekend of the weird month of back-to-back weekend games, all but one during the daytime.  The Pens need to beat a non-playoff team like the Bolts to keep pace with the Devils and Flyers.  Unfortunately, recent history against bad teams isn't good (see last Sunday in Buffalo).

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - The best overall performance of the season against the Rangers last Tuesday.
  • Lightning - They had won three in a row at home against the likes of San Jose and Anaheim, and then they went to Winnipeg on Thursday and were down 4-0 after two periods.  They almost came back, but a terrible first few periods for them.
Questions to be answered
  • Can someone slow down Steven Stamkos?  The man is on a tear, with 11 points in his last four games (6 goals, 5 assists).  He was held scoreless when he faced the Pens almost two weeks ago.
  • Can the Pens take advantage of Stamkos?  He's only a +2 over those four games.  Four points came on the power play, so unless the Bolts allowed a shortie, the opposition has scored five times in four games while Stamkos is on the ice.
  • Who will throw the sucker punch for the Bolts now that Downie is gone and Vinny is hurt?
Keys to the game
  • Jump on them early.  The Bolts have been sellers with trades, sending out Downie, Moore and Kubina.  That has to affect the morale eventually.
  • Generate your own emotions.  Without some of the chippy guys on the other side, the Pens have a tendency to become cold and emotionless.  They need to find a reason to be fired up. 
  • Take them seriously.  I know facing the Bolts is a long way from the Rangers, but these two points are just as valuable.

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