With Game Two coming on Memorial Day, there is probably no one reading this.
With that in mind, I think there are a few things the Penguins will have to do to make a series of this. First of all, their forecheck has to, well, exist. One of their strengths is how fast and hard they attack the puck in the other team’s zone, and they looked downright sluggish on Saturday. Forcing the Wings’ defense to make mistakes will be hard enough, but not getting to them in the first place will make it impossible.
The Penguins 4th line also has to step up. Getting a good shift out of the 4th line is an absolute must in the playoffs, and sets up the rest of your scoring lines with a good energy shift, especially if the opponents top D pair is out. According to Mirtle, that didn’t happen in Game One. Gary Roberts being inserted into the lineup may give the Penguins a burst, but the entire team has to work with getting solid shifts out of their weaker lines and try to get Lidstrom and Rafalski away from Sidney Crosby.
Sid himself has to get it together, too. Overall the Penguins looked very, very nervous, and it is understandable given the circumstances. However, I think they will rebound nicely, and at the very least look like a competent hockey team.
After all, the last thing we want is Neil Smith right. Right?
(Much, much more on that Burnside article later…)