-- The proper thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins
to say is, "Yes, we can improve."
But, really, can they? Starting tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they will see.
Save for Game 4 against the New York Rangers
, the Penguins have done just about everything right in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is why they're 10-1 and consecutive wins away from sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers
to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Even they admit that if they start analyzing areas where they can improve at this juncture it'll just be a futile and unnecessary effort in nitpicking.
"To have the record we have in the postseason we are obviously doing the majority of things correctly," defenseman Rob Scuderi
said. "We always want to improve, but we're not nitpicking. How many things can you really pick out? Besides staying out of the box at certain times there aren't too many things we're looking to change."
Nor should they, but the questions about what they feel they can do better were still being asked Tuesday morning. Maybe that's just because we in the media are staggering for things to write about the near perfect Pens, but nevertheless they were asked and the Penguins had some interesting answers.
"We want to shoot the puck a little more," defenseman Ryan Whitney
said despite the fact that the Penguins are averaging 33.1 shots per game, "but we're playing an overall complete game and we're getting great goaltending. You can't ask for total excellence."
Actually, winger Jarkko Ruutu
thinks you can. He believes there is such a thing as the perfect game, and no, the Penguins haven't played one yet despite their monumental success so far in the postseason.
"I don't think you can fool yourself with the record," Ruutu said. "Whatever has happened the past is the past. You can't get comfortable. When you're satisfied and comfortable you're going to get burned.
"I mean hockey is a game of mistakes, but you can avoid how you make them and why you make them. We can improve a lot."
"Playoff hockey is about being almost as perfect as you can be," added Scuderi.
Tonight's challenge will to be as perfect as they can be in enemy territory, which hasn't been too kind to the Penguins this season.
They were 0-4 in the Wachovia Center during the regular season and got outscored 19-7, including an 8-2 shellacking on Dec. 11 when the Flyers scored six unanswered goals after a 2-2 first period. Joffrey Lupul
had three goals and three assists and R.J. Umberger
had three goals and two assists that night.
"It's a challenge to play here," Sidney Crosby
said. "We see these guys a lot during the season so I think it's something we're more used to maybe than other teams, but it's definitely always a warm welcoming, for sure."
He was kidding, of course. Don't expect Flyer fans to roll out a red carpet for these hated cross-Commonwealth rivals. And, for Crosby, young No. 87 will certainly hear plenty of, to say politely and with some P.C., malicious remarks tonight.
Even still, the Penguins don't plan to change a thing.
Really, they don't have to.
"There is a sense of urgency, but that shows how mature the younger guys are in this room," defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. "We take control of a situation before it takes control of