Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Game 3 Preview: Going for the stranglehold

Will Gary Roberts be back tonight? It looks like it, but they’ll make that decision after the morning skate. Goals aside, Adam Hall is a good 4th line player, so even if Mr. Gary’s groin can’t go, the Pens will still have a good 4th line. It’d be nice to get Roberts back if only for his presence and maybe have him slam a defenseman or two on the forecheck.

Speaking of people needing to be slammed, Sean Avery was called a coward by Joe Starkey for a slash on Sidney Crosby. We don’t condone whacking a player who doesn’t have the puck, but in a sense NHL players constantly have to fight through random slashes and cross-checks. No harm, no foul here. But, to be sure Avery needs to know that he can’t just be slashing Crosby at-will. Maybe the pounding that the USS Hal Gill and Georges Laraque laid on him might reinforce that.

In today’s Ron Cook column, he advocates replacing Marian Hossa with Petr Sykora on the team’s top powerplay, repeating “if it’s aint broke, fix it anyways”. Cook accurately points out all the chances and shots that Hossa is generating but thinks a guy like Sykora may help the Penguins convert more. There’d be nothing positive to come out of making that change right now, Hossa’s doing everything well in all facets of his game, he’s just not scoring goals at the moment. Sykora’s been great too, but Hossa is more skilled and brings more to the table.

If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s a pretty good article from ESPN’s Scott Burnside about coach Michel Therrien. As we’ve mentioned before, it hits on how Therrien’s in a pretty thankless position; when he wins it’s to be expected (and credit to the players) but when the team is not winning it’s his fault and he deserves to be fired. Hell, even when he is winning and the powerplay is clicking along he’s got people like Ron Cook calling for him to change things up.

Around the league some crazy stuff too as the Canadien fans descerated the Rocky statue in Philadelphia with a Habs jersey and the Canadian national anthem was subsquently boo'd last night in return. Things are heating up there, surprisingly to us the Flyers are hanging right in there, as Martin Biron has been playing out of his mind lately.

Closer to the homefront Game 3 is tonight and the Rangers will have the benefit of being at home and definitely have the chance to get back on their feet a little bit. As we all know a 3-0 series is basically over but a 2-1 advantage shift the momentum back to the Rangers. NYR will be looking to play another tight checking, low scoring game but watch for the Pens (particularly the lower lines) to try to setup up puck possession in their zone and generate a lot of shots and scoring chances that way. If guys like Jordan Staal, Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy can keep this up and establish the Pens early in the game, we like the chances of a 3-0 advantage.

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