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Penguins to rely on speedy forecheck against Rangers

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma isn't shy about sharing exactly what his team has to do to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers.

Bylsma sees Pittsburgh's forecheck as the determining factor in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I think in Game 2 we did a much better job of that, in terms of a heavy forecheck," Bylsma said hours before Game 3. "Making defenseman go back, make them play in the D zone, make it be tough. That is something we have to do in this situation. We did a good job of it last night. We have to do that right from the start."

Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Rangers could be vulnerable to Pittsburgh's aggressive style, especially after winning a seven-game series against a Philadelphia Flyers team that also relied on a fierce forecheck. But the Penguins' attack isn't a traditional physical onslaught. It relies more on positioning and speed, a tactic that better suits Pittsburgh's skilled lineup.

"Physicality is not the real emphasis with our forecheck. It's more where the puck is at and getting there with speed and being a factor that way," Byslma said. "The makeup of our team is not overly strong on physicality. The forecheck is more puck management. A lot of times our best forechecks are touching the puck first."

That ability to get to the puck first was the deciding factor in Pittsburgh's 3-0 Game 2 victory on Sunday. The Penguins drifted away from that strategy in Game 1, a departure that cost them the opening game of the series in overtime. Bylsma expects his troops to maintain their more aggressive approach in Game 3.

"Game 1 was too much East-West. We got too cute with our mentality," Bylsma said. "Game 2 we were much better. It's something we've got to do right here at the drop of the puck."

Bylsma did not have any injury or lineup updates other than goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury starting. Any lineup changes will be made following warmups.

Here are the projected lineups for Game 3:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Joe Vitale

Brian Gibbons - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Rob Scuderi - Robert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

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

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


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - J.T. Miller

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Derek Dorsett, Ryan Haggerty, Daniel Carcillo, John Moore, Justin Falk

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)

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