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Penguins need secondary scoring to pick up

Monday, 06.08.2009 / 2:20 PM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins insisted Monday they just need to keep doing what they've been doing in the Stanley Cup Final to avoid elimination in Tuesday's Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

"We have to make sure that everyone is on the same page," Pittsburgh forward Bill Guerin said after Monday's hour-long practice. "We've gotten to this point by sticking to a game plan and living and dying by it. That's what we are going to have to do. We can't go off on our own page now."

But the Penguins' current game plan -- or at least their execution of it -- hasn't been enough five games into this entertaining Final series.

If the Penguins "keep on keeping on," they will almost assuredly lose the Final to the Detroit Red Wings for the second-straight year, if not in Tuesday's Game 6, then in Friday's Game 7 in Detroit.

Why? Because it's hard to envision Pittsburgh winning two-straight games against the defending champions without receiving more production from forwards not named Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Pittsburgh has 10 goals in this series, but just four in traditional 5-on-5 play. They have four power-play goals (two by Malkin and two by defensemen), a shorthanded goal by Jordan Staal and an empty-net tally by Max Talbot.

Ruslan Fedotenko, Talbot, Crosby and Tyler Kennedy have the only even-strength goals for the Penguins -- not enough production from a team that has scored a playoff-best 46 goals during 5-on-5 play.

"If you want to win to go far, if you want to win in the playoffs, other guys need to step up," forward Pascal Dupuis said. "It's playoffs. It's a team game; you can't count on just two guys."

In other words, some of the other players Pittsburgh counts on for goals must step to the fore. Crosby's regular wingers -- Guerin and Chris Kunitz -- have yet to score in the Final.

"We really have to pick up the slack," said Guerin, who had seven goals in the first three rounds. "We can't put that kind of pressure on those two guys. They've done so much for us.

"You saw it in Games 3 and 4, a lot of other guys chipping in and getting some scoring done. We definitely need that. Depth is a huge thing right now. The more you have, the better you are."

Kunitz has struggled mightily all postseason to find the back of the net, but has contributed on Crosby's line in other ways. But those other contributions are no longer enough when he has just one goal in the playoffs, despite regularly playing with one of the game's top playmakers.

Fedotenko has made his career on scoring clutch goals, including both goals in Tampa Bay's Game 7 win against Calgary in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. He has not scored in any of the past four games after getting Pittsburgh's only goal in Game 1.

"I don't know if you put pressure on yourself, but you know what you need to do," Fedotenko said. "You've been in that situation before and you need to deliver."

Kunitz would prefer not to be struggling, but he has been through the playoffs, winning the 2007 Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks. He knows that when one guy is not scoring on a championship team, some other guy will make it happen.
"That's what helps win championships -- guys coming out of nowhere to help out," Kunitz said. "Everybody's got to contribute. We have to be better, have better games. Right now, we're looking for anybody to score goals to help us win."

That message of hope is also the one Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma is spreading throughout the room, trying to keep his players from getting bogged down in their scoring struggles as the season's biggest game looms in a little more than 24 hours.

Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Final Gear"Do we need those guys to score a goal?" Bylsma asked in response to a question about the struggles of his forwards not named Malkin or Crosby. "We don't need them to score a goal. We need our team to play well. We need our special teams to be better than their special teams. If we do that, we are going to give ourselves a chance to win the game.

"If we do that, we'll find someone in that room that can score a goal. I'm confident in that."

Quote of the Day

I don't know the room very well yet. I don't know how we're going to react in certain situations. We've had a couple of minor tests throughout the [preseason] ... We'll get to know each other as the year goes on. We'll figure it out.

— Oilers coach Todd McLellan on starting the 2015-16 season without a captain
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