11 June, 2017
3 F Hockey
In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Penguins must play 3F Hockey: Focused, Fast, Fearless Hockey.
Winger Conor Sheary said: “It’s a good thing that we have two opportunities, but we don’t want to let this one slip away,” he said. “If we say, ‘Oh, we can win on home ice,’ that can get us into a trap.”
In Game 6, the mindset must be on winning the Cup at the earliest opportunity to do so. This is the first closeout game of the ultimate round. The Penguins must keep this first and foremost in their mind. They must demonstrate it in every second of their play. That means they must, as Coach Sullivan repeatedly says, “Just play.”
Center Matt Cullen said after practice Saturday in Cranberry. “We have a group that, we understand where we’re at.”
“You have an opportunity in front of you, and you just have to treat it like a Game 7. To be honest, our last game, we treated like a Game 7, and we brought out a really good game.”
“That’s the mindset we have to have going into [Game 6]. We’ve already talked about it, and we will continue to talk about it. It’s important that we try to seize the opportunity we have in front of us.”
The Penguins must approach Game 6 like they did Game 5. They must be on the offense, be on their toes and dictate the terms., As Coach Mike Sullivan always says. “If we play that way, play with that mindset, we’ll be all right.”
This also means not taking stupid penalties, especially too many on the ice penalties. It means not being baited into needless fights and other stupid actions. It means an energized, Power Play with a lethal scoring intent. It means winning half chances and spending most of each period in the offensive zone.
“We have to bring our best game,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “The elimination game is always the most difficult to get. First and foremost, we have to understand the challenge. I believe our players do.
“I really believe, in these types of games when the emotions are high and the stakes are high, it's about focus. It's about attention to detail. It's about effort, and it's about execution, controlling what you can out there. That's where our whole focus is.”
“It’s established NHL biology that Crosby has eyes in the back of his head, but the way he brings out the occasional lethality of the flying Sheary and the routinely astounding Guentzel puts No. 87’s singular gifts in a context not approached with any of his various other wingers.” Sid and the Kids are the most lethal line in the NHL when they are playing to their full potential. And the driving force of that lethality is speed. Speed kills when it is deployed by a line that also has superb skills. For the Penguins to win in Game 6, Sid and the Kids and the rest of the Penguins must exhibit speed such as they did in Game 5. If the do so, the Preds will be ripped to shreds!
Sid and the Kids along with Malkin, Kessel, Rust, and Hagelin must bring speed to bear in Game 6. They have the capability to do so. When they do, the Predators will be at a disadvantage as every other team before them has been.
I am confident Coach Sullivan will emphasize this and Crosby will exemplify it. These two set the tone for the Penguins and due to the splendid harmony among the team, that tone plays out with wondrous variations and vitality.
“In the first three rounds of these playoffs, the Penguins have squandered their first opportunity to eliminate an opponent.” That is, one of two streaks the Penguins must end on Sunday. The other that they must terminate is the home team winning every game in the Finals. Then, there is the streak they must extend: their four previous Stanley Cup triumphs have happened on the road. There is no good reason to change that.
Whether one calls it desperation or determination, the Predators will be especially ferocious in Game 6. Lax officiating has let them get away with virtual thuggery, and it remains to be seen if vigilant NHL officials show up for game 6. The NHL let its officials get away with such a departure from norms once the postseason begins? Why are we at a point where we all just sort of go along with officials not doing their jobs when the games matter most? And the situation is getting worse.” The slogan for this malfeasance is “letting the players settle this one.” The problem is some coaches and some players deliberately set out to foul and, even injure, key players on other teams. Sidney Crosby has been subjected to near constant mugging. Things that are worthy rules during the regular season should be properly and consistently upheld during the playoffs. If they are not, then the playoffs do not constitute hockey, but some other game that resembles hockey as much as rugby resembles soccer. [http://thecomeback.com/nhl/referees-quiet-whistles-ruining-playoffs.html]
It is clear the Predators and their coach wants to be physical. That is a euphemism for intimidatingly rough even if that requires bending the rules of proper hockey play to the breaking point and beyond. Thus, the Penguins must be fearless. They must face the threat of improper play by thugs on skates and find a way to make these scoundrels pay on the scoreboard. They have done so all season long, and I believe they will do so in game 6. When desperation meets an unconquerable will, it is usually the will that wins. As Winston Churchill once truly said in a far more momentous context: “As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us.” According to Coach Sullivan, the Penguins have just the faith in one another and the unconquerable will to win Churchill describes. Also, empowering the Penguins is their courageous character. According to John Wooden: “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.” The Penguins have both in abundance. Therefore, I believe the Penguins will rise and shine in Game 6 and win their fifth Stanley Cup on the road in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.