For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.
Berube, 50, was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant coach for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach on Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.
TAMPA -- As good as the Pittsburgh Penguins were in generating speed, dominating the puck and creating scoring chances to win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final 4-2 on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning fell the other way and were just that ineffective.
To get back into the series, former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube said the Lightning need to shape up and start putting their best game on the ice. They haven't done it for the past two games and trail 2-1 in the best-of-7 series going into Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"They need to play a lot quicker than they are, a lot more aggressive I would say, and win more battles," Berube said. "In my opinion, I thought the Penguins just outplayed them [Wednesday] night more than anything. I know the Penguins' speed is a big thing, but they just looked like they outplayed the Lightning. I hate saying it, but they looked like they wanted it more. I'm not saying they do, but Tampa has to get going, get skating, be a lot more aggressive."
The Penguins outshot Tampa Bay 48-28, giving them a 124-69 advantage in shots on goal in the series.
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Berube said it's obvious why the Lightning haven't been sharp.
"When they're on their game, their coach, Jon Cooper, said it the other night, they have five guys right on you and they're a real tight unit," Berube said. "I just don't see that. I just don't see them making plays and generating speed and getting the attack going. On the other side of it, I don't see them eliminating Pittsburgh at all. I don't see them eliminating their speed by being aggressive, having people on them, finishing people. I just don't see it and that's why the Penguins have been able to generate so much speed, scoring chances."
The Lightning are also committing too many turnovers, Berube said.
"They've got to be better with the puck," he said. "That comes from puck support and making better plays with the puck."
The turnovers are slowing the Lightning down when they want to play a quicker, puck-possession game. They are limiting the ability of Tampa Bay's defensemen, most notably Victor Hedman, to get up the ice and join the rush. And since the Lightning are giving the puck away so much, the Penguins' defensemen are getting hit far less than the Lightning's.
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"I don't think the Lightning are careless, I think they feel maybe overwhelmed a little bit right now with the pressure and speed and aggressiveness of the Penguins," Berube said. "I think they feel a little bit overwhelmed, so they need to just get back to basics, make smart plays with the puck and have puck support, people around the puck everywhere. They'll gain confidence from that, maybe they'll get a lead and get rolling. That's how you get back going."
It will also help if they start winning some puck battles. Penguins goalie Matt Murray is leaving rebounds in front of the net, but the Lightning aren't getting to them.
"Murray is seeing everything, making a first save and there are no second and third opportunities because there's not enough traffic, things like that around the net," Berube said. "They've got to have way more of an attack mentality and get on the Penguins, force them into mistakes and capitalize on those mistakes. They're just not doing any of that."
On the positive side, Berube liked what he saw from the reunited "Triplets" line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat in the third period of Game 3. They combined for two goals, enough for Berube to feel that they should be together to start Game 4.
"But they definitely need more than that to get going," Berube said. "They just can't be a one-line team. They're just not getting enough from everybody."