A few years ago, the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoff slogan was “History Will Be Made.”
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, that moniker needs to become a reality if they are to continue their quest for hockey’s holy grail.
After all, the Penguins find themselves trailing 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Final series to the Boston Bruins, and in order to advance to the next round they’ll have to accomplish something that has only been done three times in the NHL’s storied history.
But the Penguins aren’t looking at the odds.
“Looking at the situation, down 0-3, you can look at the odds, the history, it’s not a very encouraging picture,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We don’t have to win four games against the Boston Bruins. We have to win one game (Friday) night to get this thing back to the ‘Burgh. That’s what we have to look at.”
“If you were betting right now, you aren’t betting on the Penguins down 3-0, but we’re not going to quit,” Brandon Sutter said. “By no means are we going to break down and give up. The percentages are against us, but we have a good team. We’re taking this day-by-day right now. We’re getting ourselves ready for tomorrow. We’re focused on winning one game right now and going from there.”
The most recent team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series was the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, who coincidently topped the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final on their way to the Cup Final.
But that was a different Bruins team. And the Penguins aren’t the Flyers. The situations are difficult to compare. Although the fact that there is a precedent inspires a glimmer of hope.
“They were up 3-0 a couple years ago and they lost,” Pascal Dupuis said. “It’s different players and everything is different about this one.”
One piece of salvation for the Penguins could be their offense, if they can get it going again. They boasted the No. 1 ranked offense in the NHL during the regular season and first two rounds of the playoffs. But they’ve only scored two goals in three games against the Bruins.
“We know that with the firepower we have on our team eventually they will go in,” Dupuis said. “Hopefully that will be tomorrow because we need them.”
“I don’t think we’re concerned about not being able to score with the way we played last night and the opportunities we created,” Sutter said. “We’d be much more concerned if we weren’t getting the chances and the offense. We have to find a way to get a few in.”
Despite being in a 0-3 hole, the Penguins are still confident they can make a run in the series.
“It’s always about the next game,” Matt Cooke said. “There’s a lot of belief in our dressing room in the group that we have and what we’ve accomplished. Right now it’s about Game 4 and that’s it.
“We need to be the team that we believe we are.”
The Penguins hope that they will write a new story in NHL history with a 3-0 comeback. The first three chapters have been written. The story has reached its crisis point. The tension is building.
Will chapter four be the end of the story? Or simply the beginning?
“What’s at stake for our future is a chance to play Game 5,” Bylsma said. “Tomorrow is an elimination game for our team. We have one game. We have 60 minutes. Win one game and move on to the next day.”