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GAME DAY: SCP '09, TUESDAY MAY 26, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL--PITTSBURGH AT CAROLINA, 730 PM ET

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davetherave

davetherave
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GAME DAY: SCP '09, TUESDAY MAY 26, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL--PITTSBURGH AT CAROLINA, 730 PM ET PitPittsburgh at GAME DAY: SCP '09, TUESDAY MAY 26, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL--PITTSBURGH AT CAROLINA, 730 PM ET CarCarolina

GAME FOUR, 2009 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS EAST SEMIFINALS
PENGUINS LEAD SERIES 3-0

7:30 PM ET, May 26, 2009
RBC Center, Raleigh, North Carolina


CBC/RDS/Versus

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/ESPN) -- It's been five months since Eric Staal went this long between goals. If the All-Star center doesn't start producing soon, he might have to wait that long before his next chance to score.

As Staal goes in this postseason, so go the Carolina Hurricanes. They've have won all seven playoff games in which he has scored a goal, and are 1-9 when he doesn't.

One reason the Hurricanes enter Tuesday night's Game 4 in danger of being swept out of the Eastern Conference finals by the surging Pittsburgh Penguins is the lack of production from their franchise player.

The Penguins' young stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, have taken over the series, combining for 14 points and eight of their team's 16 goals. Conversely, Staal has been held to just one assist in the series, and has gone six games without a goal since he had two in Game 4 of the second round against Boston.

The Hurricanes' top scorer insists his touch will return with time, even if his team is running out of it.

"I'm counted on to score goals and counted on to produce offensively," Staal said Monday. "I need to be a little bit better in my end of the rink and focus on that first, and everything else kind of takes care of itself. ... When those opportunities come, they're going to fall -- I didn't score 40 goals for no reason. I know what I can do, and that's continuing to attack the net, and those things are going to happen."

The drought is his longest since he went seven games without a goal in November and December, a stretch that coincided with the firing of coach Peter Laviolette and the rehiring of Paul Maurice. Staal rebounded from that stretch to score a team-best 40 goals, hitting that mark for the second time in his five-year career, and finished with 75 points, two behind Ray Whitney for the team lead.

But after a quick start to the playoffs when he had 12 points in 11 games, he's one loss away from the indignity of being eliminated by his baby brother's team.

"He's hard on himself -- probably too hard on himself sometimes," Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal said. "It's a difficult situation for him. He's been playing hard. It's just not going in for him."

The Penguins' underrated defense has something to do with that, too. They've kept several of Carolina's top players off the scoresheet during the series, holding Whitney and Erik Cole to two assists apiece.

"Those three guys ... they use each other very well," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They don't rely so much on one-on-one talent, individual skill, as they do on the whole line. We're just trying to get on them quick, take away their time and space, and get moving into the offensive zone, because that's where our forwards are able to grind them down and make them play defense."

Indeed, the Penguins are at their fast-breaking best when they're flying down the ice, peppering goalie Cam Ward with quick shots and following one goal with another. They're outshooting Carolina by nearly nine shots per game. Three times in the series the Penguins have scored multiple goals within 90 seconds.

Next up for Pittsburgh: A spot in the record book, one way or another.

No team since the 1984 Edmonton Oilers has won the Stanley Cup the year after losing in the finals. The Penguins -- beaten by Detroit in six games in last year's Cup finals -- seemingly are racing the Red Wings to become the first team to reach the final round in consecutive years since New Jersey did it in 2000 and '01. The Detroit Red Wings lead the West finals 3-1 over Chicago.

Before the Penguins can think about a probable matchup against former teammate Marian Hossa -- who signed with the Red Wings in the offseason for what he perceived as a better chance to win a title -- they must take care of the Hurricanes and avoid becoming the first NHL team since the 1975 Penguins to lose a series after leading 3-0.

"We certainly know the situation we're in," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "We haven't won four games. This is a race to four, and we still have more work to do to get there. ... I understand they've been to the finals last year and didn't get the result they wanted. No, we're not there yet. We still have work to do."

Carolina, meanwhile, hopes it can stage another comeback to prolong a postseason already full of rallies. The Hurricanes scored twice in the final 80 seconds to beat New Jersey in Game 7 of the first round, then delivered a goal in overtime to eliminate the Bruins in another seventh game.

"We're only done if we think we're done," Ward said.

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
Gonna be tough to get that 4th win in Carolina. You just know the Pens are itching so badly to get back to the Finals, they'll want to finish this off tonight. The 'Canes will have to give it their all.

I think they do it tonight and close out the series.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Well, no-one picked PIT4 so I'm good with a sweep. Dennycrane, though, picked PIT5 and he's only 2 points behind. I'd be much happier with a sweep than hoping that the Canes push it to 7 (my pick was PIT7).

Got Geno! Go Sid! Go MAF! Go home Canes!

Cap'n Clutch

Cap'n Clutch
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
I've personally given up on the pool. I think the Pens will do it tonight but it may be better for them in the long run to have it extend to 5 or 6 games so they won't be as rusty for the Finals.


_________________
"A child with Autism is not ignoring you, they are waiting for you to enter their world."

- Unknown Author

PKC

PKC
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All-Star
Well another Pittsburgh-Detroit finals would suck.

SensFan71


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All-Star
PKC wrote:Well another Pittsburgh-Detroit finals would suck.

agreed, don't want/care if either of those teams win, would be eagerly awaiting the draft, then Free Agency, hockey games wouldn't be interesting to me anymore this year.

Cap'n Clutch

Cap'n Clutch
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
SensFan71 wrote:
PKC wrote:Well another Pittsburgh-Detroit finals would suck.

agreed, don't want/care if either of those teams win, would be eagerly awaiting the draft, then Free Agency, hockey games wouldn't be interesting to me anymore this year.

I haven't really paid much attention to the playoffs this year anyway so it really doesn't matter to me.


_________________
"A child with Autism is not ignoring you, they are waiting for you to enter their world."

- Unknown Author

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
Cap'n Clutch wrote:
SensFan71 wrote:
PKC wrote:Well another Pittsburgh-Detroit finals would suck.

agreed, don't want/care if either of those teams win, would be eagerly awaiting the draft, then Free Agency, hockey games wouldn't be interesting to me anymore this year.

I haven't really paid much attention to the playoffs this year anyway so it really doesn't matter to me.
My interest really dropped off after the 2nd round. I've hardly watched any games this round and I'm not a fan of the stupid afternoon games (thank you NBC).

I'll tune in for the Finals.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
I don't mind this match up at all. Will the Penguins continue to be flightless birds or will they finally earn their Wings?

davetherave

davetherave
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Who wins tonight? How many goals? Who are the key players?

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Pittsburgh sweeps. Key player is Mrs. Malkin.

davetherave

davetherave
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All-Star
This analysis from Versus' Pens and Canes web correspondents:

Brian Metzer/Penguins:

Why the Penguins Will Win Game 4
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin: Two huge reasons why the Penguins will win Game 4. These players have been absolutely dominant in the series and have combined for 14 points in the three games. Each has brought a little something extra to the ice on each and every shift and it is as if they are single handedly willing the Penguins to victory night after night. When you mix that scoring punch and determination with the improved play of Marc-Andre Fleury, you get a recipe for success in Game 4.

Why the Hurricanes Will Lose Game 4

Paul Maurice and the Hurricanes seem to have no answer for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They looked lethargic, mistake prone and a step too slow throughout the final two periods of game three. It just doesn’t seem as if they have the depth in their forward or defensive ranks to compete with the four lines that the Penguins are rolling right now. Fatigue is going to be their undoing and it will be a major factor in why they will lose Game 4.

---

Matt Karash/Hurricanes:

Why the Canes Will Win Game 4
At some point it becomes less about hockey and more about pride. We are at that point. The Pens will be looking to ride momentum to slam the door before it opens even a crack, but there are just too many guys in the Canes dressing room that know even if must end badly it must end better. Look for a “not in our house” pride effort and win on Tuesday in Raleigh.


Why the Penguins Will Lose Game 4
As good as the Penguins have been they are due for a little bit of a drop off that opens the door just enough for the Canes to squeeze through it and get a feel-good win for the dressing room and the home fans.

Guest


Guest
I think the littlle kid needs to learn to words to the song ... Jesus ...

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
Wow, well this period was like 'Runaway Train'...two teams hurtling around at a frantic pace.

Good to see Eric Staal back on the scoresheet.

Fedotenko is earning his keep.

One of Malkin's shifts was him just dazzling everyone as he took over in the offensive zone...Ward's failure to get a stoppage in play after the shot that broke a strap on his mask made it loose enough to distract him so he flubbed Satan's shot...

Terrific hockey...

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