The Pittsburgh Penguins are three games away from hoisting their fifth Stanley Cup and second in two years. After taking game one in Pittsburgh on Memorial Day, the Penguins look to take a commanding two game lead. Although the Pens won game one it wasn’t how most people would have expected. The Pens mustered just 12 shots in the entire game, eight of which came in the three goal first period. Going forward the Penguins will have to play better especially once the series shifts to Nashville for games three, four, and six (if needed). That being said there are many ways the Pens can take game two tonight and possibly win the series quickly.
First, off the Penguins need to shoot the puck more. Not very often will you win a game with just four games on nets. They went the entire second period without a shot and didn’t register a shot until Jake Guentzel goal in the third period. It’s as simple as that, get more pucks on nets, especially with Pekka Rinne’s history when he plays in Pittsburgh. Rinne is 1-5-2 with a save percentage of .880 in his career when playing in Pittsburgh something the Penguins capitalized on in game one. With how poor Rinne has played through his career in Pittsburgh the more shots the better.
Don’t always look for the pretty pass or goal. This goes hand in hand with shooting more but the Pens need to stop trying to make the pretty plays. It’s the Stanley Cup Finals don’t worry about how the play looks as long as it works. Pittsburgh is known for trying to make the flashy plays at times and not always the right plays. We see that more often than not on the powerplay where the Penguins will just pass it around the offensive zone looking for the perfect play. It’s not always going to work out that way though. Be sure to look for players to go to the dirty areas in game two to make a difference.
Play better with the lead. Going into the third period of game one the Pens had a two goal advantage over the Predators and blew it. They got beat on some bad plays defensively while also getting a few unlucky bounces. That being said however the defense as a whole needs to step up going forward. Matt Murray stood on his head for the Pens in game one but how much longer will he be able to do so with how good the Predators have been.
Be more aggressive with on the forecheck. Again this goes with the previous point but something that needs to be focused on. The more aggressive the Pens are on the forecheck the less offensive zone time the Preds will get, which equals winning hockey. As I previously noted Pekka Rinne has been awful in Pittsburgh throughout his career so if the Pens can create more opportunities those woes may continue.
Finally, the Pens need to play their game. It’s as simple as that fast-paced hockey with lots of shots on net. Sounds like a reoccurring theme. But the Penguins really didn’t get to play their game in game on. They played the Predators game and blew a three goal lead. Even though the Pens won the effort needs to be there for more than the first period if they want to win another Stanley Cup.
That being said I have full confidence that Head Coach Mike Sullivan will push all the right buttons tonight. The Pens have the ability to be repeat Stanley Cup champions for the first time in almost 20 years. They’re chomping at the bit to solidify their legacy. The only team that may be able to beat these Pens in a seven game series is themselves. Less mental lapses in game two could lead to a two-nothing series lead heading back to Nashville.