It’s hard to believe the Pens have managed only 3 even-strength goals (not counting empty-netters) after the first 4 games of this series. It’s even harder to believe that Crosby and Malkin haven’t factored in on any of them. What the hell is going on?
I guess we should have seen this coming. After all, the Habs trapped and Halak-ed their way past Washington in the first round. Montreal has found a system that is working; what it is I’m not exactly sure. Something along the lines of neutral-zone trap, rely heavily on the goalie to bail you out and be extremely opportunistic on offense.
The Pens have to find a way to break it. Montreal is playing without two of their top four defensemen (Spacek and Markov). They’re playing a rookie (Subban) and two marginal NHLers (O’Byrne and Bergeron). It’s about time Crosby and Malkin rose to the occasion. I’m not placing blame, I’m just saying it’s time for two of the best players in the game to go out and prove it.
A couple of things that would help the cause: 1) Bill Guerin. Here’s hoping #13 is back in the lineup Saturday. He’s a stabilizing presence on Sid’s wing. 2) Play physical. The Pens have to start abusing Montreal defensemen every chance they get. There wasn’t enough hitting in Game 4 in my opinion.
This series is not going to be won on special teams alone. The Pens have to generate offense 5-on-5, and they need their best players to lead the charge.