By: Andrew McDermott
Well, last night the Penguins had an old fashioned ass beating handed to them by the Washington Capitals. It was ugly. It was hard to watch. The Penguins just looked like a team that had nothing left in the tank. They played soft, uninspired hockey that could put even the most die-hard Penguins fan to sleep. It was disheartening to see that kind of performance put out on home ice. We can sit here, talk about everything that went wrong, and complain that the season is over. But here’s the thing: it’s not. Lets have a short memory and forget about that game.
Game 7 is in Washington. The Capitals are looking to make it to the conference finals for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era. The Penguins are looking to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. What better test for the Penguins than to beat the Capitals on their home ice to head to the Eastern Conference Finals? I would be absolutely shocked if the Penguins showed up with the effort that they did in Game 6 again. It was a wake up call for the Penguins. They got manhandled and embarrassed. Plain and simple. But if this doesn’t light a fire under them, I don’t know what will. The Capitals think that they’ll have an easy win on Wednesday. They think the Penguins are demoralized and have given up. It sure looked like that Monday night.
But I have faith in Mike Sullivan. I have faith that he gets this team back on track, and ready to play their best game of the season. Let’s not forgot the Penguins took two games in Washington in this series. What’s stopping them from doing it again? What’s stopping Marc-Andre Fleury from stealing another game? I don’t want this to be Fleury’s last game as a Penguin.
The defenseman need to step it up now more than ever. We know that they can play way better than they did. Ron Hainsey’s turnover in the defensive zone was a backbreaker. Monday night was evident that this team misses Kris Letang now more than ever. Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta and Ian Cole all need to step it up another notch in Game 7.
But it’s going to take a team effort to beat the Capitals. I have a feeling that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are going to be playing focused on Wednesday. They’re the leaders of this team and it’s no secret that if those two are playing well, the rest of the team’s game gets elevated. It’s now or never for the Penguins. Every great team faces a true test at some point in the playoffs. It’s time to see what this year’s squad is made of. Until then, it’s #PensIn7.