When: 4:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: If you’re in the Pittsburgh viewing area the game is on AT&T Sportsnet. If you’re in America but not local, the game is covered nationally on NBCSN. SN and TVAs in Canada.
Opponent Track: Montreal is feeling primed for the upset
Pens path ahead: Game 5 is tomorrow. Hopefully. Time still to be decided.
SBN Team Counterpart: Our friends at Habs Eyes on the Prize have you covered for all the Montreal talk you could ever want.
Tomas Tatar - Nick Suzuki - Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia
Paul Byron - Phillip Danault - Artturi Lehkonen
Dale Weise- Max Domi - Jordan Weal
Ben Chiarot / Shea Weber
Brett Kulak / Jeff Petry
Xavier Ouellet / Victor Mete
—Forward Jake Evans is officialy “doubtful” for today’s game after being left bloody from a Tanev check in Game 3.
xpected goalie: Carey Price
He said it..
A subtle shift of the centers helped balance Montreal, and light-scoring Phillip Danault appreciated the chance to go down an simplify his game with more checking players.
“When I’m at the top of my game, I’m strong defensively and the attack comes after,” Danault said prior to the Canadiens’ practice Thursday. “Sometimes by changing the lines, it can change big things. It was a big decision on Claude’s part (but) it paid off. I was playing a simpler style with Lehky and Pauly. It was good for me.”
And now for the Pens..
Forwards (from Game 3)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Patrick Marleau - Sam Lafferty -Patric Hornqvist
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Jack Johnson/ Justin Schultz
scratches: Anthony Angello, Kevin Czuczman, Adam Johnson, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Emil Larmi, Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Chad Ruhwedel, Casey DeSmith, Phil Varone, Jared McCann
—You would think Sullivan will certainly go to the well and change some things up, because his third (but really fourth) line is in shambles and wasn’t fixed by benching McCann. And the third pair defense continues to be a massive weak point that can’t defend on the rush and leaks goals against at an alarming rate (Jack Johnson is at a whopping 8.14 Goals Against/60 minutes at 5v5. Justin Schultz isn’t far behind at 5.61 GA/60. That is just impossibly poor).
He said it...
It’s not quite the regular “Malkin playoff guarantee” (that only works like 50% of the time) but the Pens’ big center seems to be calm and ready for the chance today, based on his media comments yesterday.
“Our confidence is fine. We understand we are playing against a good team. We just did not play right last game. If we play right, we’ll have a good chance to win...We try to stay positive right now, for sure. Try to support each other. The next two days is huge for us, including myself. We have great experience, we’ve played so many games in playoffs....All three guys - me, Tanger and Sid - need to take a huge step forward and (have) everyone follow us. If we play right and do the right things, we have a great chance to win...We have great experience, we’ve played so many games before like this. We try to be leaders. I’m not happy with my game. Huge game for me tomorrow, for sure...
Three things to watch for
#1: Happy birthday Sid, we love you
—The Pens will look to benefit from a little 8/7 magic on Sidney Crosby’s 33rd birthday today. Incredibly that will mean playing in an NHL playoff game this year, which is still a little tough to believe that is a real thing. Throughout his life, Crosby’s shown a huge knack for rising to the occasion and stepping up on the big stage in the big moments (2008 Winter Classic, OT of the 2010 Gold Medal Game, 2014 Gold Medal Game, 2016 Game 6 vs San Jose, etc, etc) and this would be another chance for a special moment to play well and stave off elimination on his birthday.
#2: Getting that first goal
—The team who has scored first this series has ended up winning all three games so far. It’s simple but pretty easy key for the game. Montreal has taken a lot of confidence when they’ve scored early, and it is very difficult to beat a team that plays with a defensive focus and has a great goalie when they get the lead and look to switch into clamp down mode. For the Pens’ own psyche, scoring first and playing out front is where they also are most comfortable.
#3: What changes will Sullivan make?
—Tristan Jarry or Matt Murray? How to fix the Hornqvist line? For the love of God will he please stop sending Jack Johnson out to sabotage all chances of success? Sullivan has some obvious changes he should make (like on defense!) and then some tougher changes to consider (like which goalie to put in net, and which two forwards to play between the choices of Marleau, McCann, Laffery and Rodrigues). These choices will go a long way between giving the Pens a spark and improving their lineup, to potentially sinking the whole season if he chooses a goalie who isn’t sharp or plays the same defense.