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Eastern Conference Final Game 4 Hotstove

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Replacing Burrows and frustrating the Pens

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators - Game Three Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Alex Burrows availability is still an unknown - who should come in to the lineup if he's unavailable?

Ross: Wingels probably. He's been adequate so far these playoffs. I'm sure the popular answer among writers will be Colin White for that "unknown youthful exuberance" factor, but at this point #TheSystem has got them this far and I think playing a guy who's been with the team since January is probably the right move.

nkb: In my dream scenario, Colin White draws in and juices the offense from the fourth line but more realistically Tommy Wingels is the best choice to draw back in. I'm not really interested in re-hashing the old Chris Neil "intangible factors" debate, so I'll just say Boucher has demonstrated that he does not trust Kelly or Neil to play at 5v5. At all. Wingels isn't a world-beater but he's competent enough that he allows Boucher to roll four lines. That's important, so he should be the one to step in if needed.

Colin: I'll second Ross and say Wingels, although the possibility of White could be intriguing. I'm still undecided whether he's ready (leaning on 'no' since it's been awhile since his last game), although maybe he could be of help on the Sens' disastrous power play. If he gets played for only a couple minutes at 5v5 a la Chris Neil, and given some time on the second power play unit, it could potentially pay off as a successful experiment.

This is the eastern confernce finals, however, which isn't really the best time for experiments. Stick with the known commodity in Wingels.

Beata: I'm with everyone else here. I'd love to see Colin White play a few games, but at this point we don't really know what to expect from him and it's best not to mess with a winning lineup. Wingels hasn't stood out to me much so far, but whenever I do notice him he looks good. He's a serviceable bottom-six forward who knows #TheSystem and isn't going to mess things up for the team. Go with him.

Trevor: I'm a fan of Tommy Wingels, so I'd love to see him get in the lineup again. Then again, it would be quite the "all-in" approach by playing Colin White in an attempt to give the team a higher ceiling. If Wingels plays over Kelly and Neil I'll still be happy.

Callum: No need to make any drastic decisions here. Colin White hasn't played a game since the final day of the regular season and in the small sample size Tommy Wingels has produced this playoffs, he leads all Senators in possession. That'll do.

Given part of Burrows role is to be an agitator, any chance Neil draws in?

nkb: I really don't think Neil is playable, and Boucher's extremely limited ice time even in the games in which he's appeared suggests the coach doesn't disagree. It was a bit of a desperation move to use him at all against the Rangers, but I suppose desperate times called for desperate measures. There's no one on Pittsburgh even remotely similar to Glass, either. I'd be shocked.

Ross: Burrows is an agitator in a different way. Burrows used to be more of a pest like Marchand or Perry - chirps you on the ice, then scores a goal. Neil was more just a guy who tried to throw you off your game. I'd be shocked if Neil draws in for Burrows, because Boucher seems to REALLY not trust him to play a regular shift.

Trevor: I'm in agreement with most of the points said here. I really doubt Neil draws back in because it seems like his value has a really short shelf life, and the only way he'll play is if they lose two games in a row again.

The frustration level on the Penguins bench seems to be growing - Kessel ranting to himself in game 2, Malkin getting ejected in game 3, etc. What can the Sens do to push it over the top?

Ross: Score early and often again. Chase Fleury. Allow only one goal. All of these things are outside Ottawa's control (except for maybe Anderson playing incredibly again), but these are the things that are frustrating the Penguins. If Ottawa can keep playing the process from last game though, that should be a good first start. All you can do is the right things in the hope that you get the right results. If Pittsburgh keeps struggling against their presumed weakest opponent of the playoffs, they'll get more frustrated.

Colin: I think it can be summed into one word: win. Pittsburgh knows they're the highly favoured team in this series, and having the nobody Senators putting them down 3-1 in the series would surely make them angry.

Beata: Just keep outplaying them, simple as that. Play the trap, keep pucks to the outside and don't let them generate any dangerous chances. Then, as Ross said, score early so as to crush their hopes of being able to steal a game. Pittsburgh is going into this series as the heavy favourite: they think they're a lot better than Ottawa, and just about everyone in the hockey world things they should be steamrolling us right now. That means that every time they lose, the Penguins are going to blame themselves, and they're going to get upset about it.

Trevor: I want to come up with a different answer to this question, but it's pretty simple: there's nothing more frustrating than losing. If Ottawa is able to get out to an early lead in game 4, look for the Penguins to lose their cool.

I wouldn't advocate for gooning it up or going out of your way to get big hits because it's just not necessary. Keep up the good play and Pittsburgh will get off their game.

Ross: I think part of it is that Pittsburgh prides itself on its forward depth. And yet they're scoring one goal per game in this series, and they've come from the big guns: Malkin, Kessel, Crosby. I find it interesting how much Ottawa seems to be able to dictate the pace of play in games. Ottawa forechecked the heck out of Boston, plugged up the neutral zone (outside of Games 3/4) against the Rangers, and now are choking the life out of the Penguins in the offensive zone. I think it's frustrating when you know your opponent is controlling the game. So maybe that's a unique answer: keep controlling the pace.

Callum: I think Ottawa's done a great job lately of pushing it over the edge. If they haven't already, I'm excited to know what "over the edge" truly entails. Dion Phaneuf is doing wonderful work with Phil Kessel and anyone else that dares venture down the middle of the ice, Alex Burrows is posting up well in front of the net and Mark Stone is giving Evgeni Malkin hell every shift. If the Pens have only bent so far, they'll break soon with a couple more nudges.