Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How the Pens can win Game 7 by changing lines and hearing a good pregame speech

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

The most obvious way for the Pens to win Game 7 tonight is to avoid giving up the first goal -- the crowd, fanbase, and entire city is eager to turn on this team and will do so immediately and viciously if the Pens give them any reason to.  Make no mistake about it: we count ourselves among this group.  Finesse has already traded Kris Letang to Edmonton in his head six times this morning.

But there's still a game to play, and so the Pens might as well play to win.  And to do that, here is the forward lineup I'm submitting tonight, because these should have been the lines in Game 6:

Crosby-Kunitz-Gibbons
Malkin-Neal-Jokinen
Sutter-Stempniak-Bennett
Goc-Vitale-Adams

Malkin and Crosby lost whatever spark they had together earlier in the series in Game 5. They've been horrific defensively, they've given the defensemen no puck support on the breakout, and they've been overpassing to an embarrassing degree. Pairing them is no longer necessarily playing to a strength.

Time for Dan Bylsma and the coaches to swallow this pill: their best forward this series aside from Malkin has been Brian Gibbons. He is absolutely torching the Rangers with his speed and does more with 10 minutes of playing time than Crosby has done in 20. If you split Sid and Geno - which is an obvious move at this stage - and your job is on the line, you better ride that little mini-pony for all he's worth. Side benefit: you might just get James Neal untracked after he finally showed some hunger to get to the net in the latter part of Game 6.

You ride this pony until this pony don't ride no more.
It's also time for Dan Bylsma to push the cameras out of the locker room, close the door, and deliver some real talk with the following pregame speech: "I'm not going to tell you this is the most important night of your lives. It's not. I'm not even going to tell you it's the most important game. I hope it's not. Make no mistake: if we lose, I'll be fired. Do not weep for me. I'll land on my feet, maybe in Washington, and I'll have no trouble getting Alex Ovechkin to stand 150 feet away from Mike Green to wait for a stretch pass. None at all, boys. I look forward to it. A bunch of you will be shown the door, too. Maybe you, Tanger. Maybe you, James. You'll still go on to play for good teams and make a lot of money. OK, hands in. I'm wearing my lucky olive suit and purple tie. Let's go boys, come on boys. No pressure."

3 comments:

  1. I'll be disappointed if we don't win. I might even be a little angry. However, this is a Game 7. I'm going to look to enjoy this as much as possible, and view it as a win-win-win(if that's possible). Win, and they advance, which is always a good thing in the playoffs, no matter what everyone thinks. Be a Cleveland fan in everything else like me, and you'll think differently. This isn't some 25-57 team we want to get a higher lottery pick. If they lose, necessary changes will be afoot, which is also good. Not as good as advancing, but still. If neither of those happen, we get to cheer for a competitive playoff team for, as long as 87 and 71 are healthy, the next decade. You never know. If you're in the tournament, you always have a shot, and that is worth a lot more than you realize. I'd give a lot just to see some excitement from Browns fans for our team heading into a playoff run. I've forgotten what it's like to watch an NFL Playoff game with a real rooting interest.

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    Replies
    1. Penguins fans are too spoiled to view this game with semblance of pleasure. Win, and they should have advanced two (nay, three!) games ago. Lose, and another Game 7 disaster a la 2010 (MTL) and 2011 (TB).

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  2. With all the attention on Sid's underperformance, can we talk about the fact that James Neal has only 2 goals and 2 assists in his 12 playoff games (to go along with his astonishing 22 PIMs)? That is a PPG of .33, down from 1.33 in the regular season.

    WTF?

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