Here are the things that the Penguins need to do if they are a serious playoff team....
1)Score on the Power Play: The Pens seemed to get their PP back on track when Gonchar came back, but the last three or four games have been shit on the PP. This to me is priority number one for them. A power play goal yesterday gives you the win. It didn't happen. Plain and simple, if you don't score on the PP, you don't win.
2)Play 60 minutes: I know the Pens are a good team. But they aren't a good team when they are playing their asses off for 5 minutes and then on vacation for 10 minutes. You dont win hockey games by playing inconsistent. Every team spaces out for about 5 minutes during the game. It happens. But the Pens seem to just totally shut it down for about 10 minutes in the third period. If there is one period you can't afford to let up it's in the third. I hate to say this, but if you do this in the Cup Finals or even the Eastern Conference Finals...YOU LOSE. It's that simple. The Pens need to start playing better through the game and especially in the third period.
3)Faceoffs: Jordan Stall was on the ice yesterday for (I think this was right) three faceoffs during the OT period in our end. As I recall, he didn't win a single one. Fleury was amazing during that 2 minute period when the Sens had a PP. A lesser goalie would have given up a goal. But the Pens need to get better on faceoffs. They were solid on faceoffs until Mike Zigomanis (pictured above) was hurt. It was about that time the Pens started playing like shit. Zigomanis is currently on IR and I don't know if he will be back for the playoffs or not. He is a very solid faceoff guy and should help them if he can return.
There you have it. Three simple ways the Pens can get better. Also this homestand is huge. The Pens host the Bruins today and will then host the Thrashers, Kings, Flyers, Flames, Rangers and Devils. Then they finish the season off visiting the Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning, come home to face the Islanders and then travel to play the Canadiens to end their regulars season. That is a total of 12 games remaining in their schedule....the homestand being extremely important.
The Pens need to beat the bubble teams and the teams that they are fighting for a playoff spot with (Flyers, Rangers, Panthers, Hurricanes and Canadiens). The Pens have 80 points and are the 6th seed. If the playoffs began today we would play the Capitals in the opening round. I see no reason the Pens couldn't get to the 4th seed. Of their final 12 games, the Pens are playing 7 playoff teams (teams in the playoffs if they started today). It will be a tough end to the season but if the Pens get hot going into the playoffs....anything can happen.