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Penguins bringing road mentality into Game 7

Tuesday, 05.13.2014 / 12:32 PM

By Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent / Penguins-Rangers series blog

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Penguins-Rangers series blog
Penguins bringing road mentality into Game 7

PITTSBURGH -- A Game 7 will be played at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are preparing as if they are on the road.

The Penguins are 1-7 in their past eight home elimination games entering Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Their record is nearly reversed in road elimination games, with six wins in their past seven.

Although Pittsburgh will play in front of a home crowd Tuesday, its pregame preparations have mirrored how it would treat a road trip. The Penguins stayed at a Pittsburgh-area hotel Monday night and traveled to the arena on a bus for their Tuesday morning skate.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen said the Penguins attempted to build camaraderie.

"We're all in this together, so let's hang out together before the biggest game of the season," Niskanen said. "Hopefully, we do bring that road mentality. Sometimes there's extra pressure to win at home or something. I don't think that's the case tonight.

"It's a Game 7. It is at home, so we should use that to our advantage. … I think everyone will pull together and try to play our best game for each other."

Success on the road and inconsistency at home has been a theme throughout Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It has scored and surrendered 16 goals in splitting six home games this postseason. After allowing the Rangers to tie the series 3-3 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, the Penguins are 4-2 on the road by outscoring their opponents by a combined 18-15.

"I think your mindset's different when you go on the road," forward Joe Vitale said. "Obviously, you go into hostile environments, deal with hostile crowds, and when you do that you have to kind of stick together a little bit more. So tonight, I think we'll have that mentality going into it.

"Taking the buses, the team meals, hotels definitely shakes things up a bit. But I think it's been great for the group, for the guys to hang out together, have a dinner last night and [have] guys traveling together this morning. Just kind of that theme of being together is going to be important for us."

Throughout six seasons with the New Jersey Devils, defenseman Paul Martin said they would stay in a hotel prior to home games during the playoffs. But he said this was a unique experience during his four seasons with Pittsburgh.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the team being together, spending some time together," Martin said. "Have a couple meetings and hang out at the hotel, I think was the biggest thing, to stick together, and we'll be ready to go tonight."

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyEvgeni Malkin

Jussi JokinenBrandon SutterJames Neal

Beau BennettMarcel GocLee Stempniak

Brian GibbonsJoe VitaleCraig Adams

Paul MartinKris Letang

Olli MaattaMatt Niskanen

Rob ScuderiRobert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Taylor Pyatt, Deryk Engelland, Chris Conner, Tanner Glass

Injured: Brooks Orpik (undisclosed), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)

RANGERS

Rick NashDerek StepanChris Kreider

Carl HagelinBrad RichardsMartin St. Louis

Benoit PouliotDerick BrassardMats Zuccarello

Brian BoyleDominic MooreDaniel Carcillo

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi

Anton StralmanMarc Staal

John MooreKevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Jesper Fast, Ryan Haggerty, J.T. Miller, Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Derek Dorsett

Injured: None

Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp