CANONSBURG, Pa. – Sidney Crosby
still believes quantity can lead to quality.
Despite out-shooting the Washington Capitals
227-161 through the first six games of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series, the Penguins have just one more goal, 21-20.
One thought is that seeing all those pucks is keeping Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov active, and with every shot he stops he's gaining in confidence. The Penguins, though, have no plans to change their attack.
"We're not throwing the puck there just to do it, it's to get rebounds and things like that," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
said. "I don't think we have to change a thing. We've had some great opportunities. For them, they've executed. We have, too, but we've left some pucks lying around there. There's no time to think about what we've done in the past here. It's up to us here to have a great game. That doesn't mean we need to change much."
So the plan remains the same -- get pucks and bodies to the net and hope for the best.
"I don't think any coach's game plan is to minimize their shots on net to when they think they're going to score," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
said. "They got goals from shooting it from the sideboards to people in front of the net. They weren't Grade A opportunities. They had people at the net and got tip-ins and it resulted in good goals for them. They got the puck there and bodies there and it's a very similar formula to what ours is. We're going to go out and try to get 40-plus shots again and 20-plus scoring chances and dictate the game that way. If we can, we feel confident we're going to get a good result."
Crosby continues to believe Varlamov is beatable, that it's more of his team failing to capitalize on its opportunities rather than the sensation rookie goalie stealing games.
"He's made some timely saves," Crosby said. "Not always huge saves, but just solid saves at key times. We got a power play (Monday) night and he makes a few big stops. That's basically it. We've also had some open nets and pucks lying in the crease we haven't been able to get our sticks on, but that always happens. Basically it just comes down to executing."
Their execution in Game 7 Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) will be crucial. The Penguins have a chance to become the first team since the 1996 Detroit Red Wings
to make a conference final one season after losing in the Stanley Cup Final.
To get there, though, they need to win one more game on the road in one of the louder buildings in the League. Quieting the crowd early is near the top of the Pens' to-do list. They've scored the first goal in all three games in Washington, but never built on their leads.
"You expect that when you go into another building," Crosby said. "You expect a storm and you do your best to prevent it. The fact is, everything is made to be bigger -- every hit seems like a big hit, every chance seems like a great chance. It's not always the case, but it's because the fans are into it. You can get put back on your heels if you're not aware of that. We want to make sure we set the tone."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org