Pittsburgh Penguins Talk: Keys to the Stanley Cup Finals

Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) handles the puck against Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) during the third period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) handles the puck against Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) during the third period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Colin Wilson (33) skates after the puck against pressure from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Colin Wilson (33) skates after the puck against pressure from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) during the first period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Melissa Nelson

Figure out Rinne

Figuring out how to beat Pekka Rinne is going to be key. His play so far is a main part of why Nashville has made it to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins have a history of doing well against really skilled goaltenders—such as Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, and Craig Anderson this year alone. One of the main reasons the Penguins have been able to beat such elite goaltenders is that under head coach Mike Sullivan, the Penguins have been much better at generating traffic and getting dirty goals.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

Expose Nashvilles Lack of Scoring Depth

Nashville has questionable depth of scoring at the moment due to injuries to captain Mike Fisher, Ryan Johansen, and Kevin Fiala. It’s worth mentioning that Johansen and Fiala will not be returning this year. In the absence of these players, the Predators got scoring from young, depth forwards; the Penguins must figure out a way to shut them down.

Block Shots

The Penguins’ defense has been called into question with their numerous injuries, particularly the absence of Kris Letang. In order to match up against Nashville’s high-scoring defensemen, the Pens will have to continue blocking a lot of shots, as they have against offensively deep teams like the Washington Capitals.

Emotion and Experience

Don’t forget the emotional and experience factors as well. For the Penguins, some of their veterans—notably, ECF game 7 hero Chris Kunitz and 40-year-old Matt “Dad” Cullen—may never get the chance to win another Cup. Also, the Predators—unlike the Penguins—lack Stanley Cup Final experience. As the 2008 Penguins learned, lack of experience can be an important factor.