They’ll need to be as close to their very best as possible to survive Boston.
The good news is, from an intangible standpoint, the Penguins couldn’t be much better heading into the Eastern Conference Final.
Through two postseason rounds the Pens have established themselves as locked in, focused, resolute, resilient, confident, determined and, so far, unshakable.
Assistant coach Tony Granato saw such qualities in the team in the regular season and observed just prior to the opening of Round One against the Islanders how “when
we were challenged we stepped up and brought it to another level.”
Head coach Dan Bylsma has seen more of the same while the Pens have gone about the business of dispatching the Isles and the Ottawa Senators to the golf course.
Bylsma spoke to that on Wednesday:
“There haven’t been too many situations where we’ve gotten flustered, gotten off track,” he observed. “There are emotional points in the playoffs, playoff series, playoff
games; you can point to a few of those. But how we responded, even in Game 3 in Ottawa where we gave up the (short-handed) goal with 30 seconds left in that
game. We came out and had six scoring chances the first eight minutes of overtime and had great chances to win that game.
“Again, we come out in Game 4 (at Ottawa) and respond. We get down by a short-handed goal but the response from our team has been real focused in those situations. And even just in controlling our emotions throughout the games. We’ve taken a few penalties but we’ve done a good job on control in that part of the game and playing
The on-ice stuff that’s stood out through the first two rounds, Bylsma said, has been the Penguins’ special-teams prowess and their commitment to being a tough team to score against.
If all of that keeps up they’re going to be a tough out, in this round and the next.