ShareThis Page

Penguins notebook: Playoff rookie Hainsey keeping level head

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 8:39 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Ron Hainsey checks the Senators' Ryan Dzingel off the puck during the first period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday, May 19, 2017, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey takes a shot against the Senators in the second period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday, May 15, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.

OTTAWA — Though he still qualifies as a playoff rookie, 36-year-old Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey considers himself immune to the emotional ebbs and flows of the postseason.

Hainsey, who entered Friday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against Ottawa second among the Penguins in ice time, dismissed the notion that anything about this phase of the playoffs, one in which the media scrutiny heightens and desperate play abounds, met the standard of new or different for him.

Even the reality of the Penguins trailing for the first time this postseason inspired little more than a shrug from the veteran.

“You've got to win four,” Hainsey said. “I know that's kind of a boring cliche. If you're doing cartwheels after winning two — I think we won the first two against Washington, and me myself personally, I wasn't doing cartwheels on the way home that the series was over. I knew that was a great team. And it took us seven.

“All of these teams are capable, including ourselves, of winning four in a row, losing four in a row. It comes down to such a fine line at this point that you better have your preparation at a high level going into every game, because it'll get away from you quick.”

Ache updates

Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Tom Kuhnhackl and Justin Schultz skated Friday, but their statuses remained “day-to-day” and none qualified as “game-time decisions,” coach Mike Sullivan said.

Hornqvist, out with an upper-body injury, missed his third straight game. Rust and Schultz, also out with upper-body injuries, missed their second in a row. Kuhnhackl has not been in the Penguins' lineup since Game 6 of the second-round series.

Shallow scoring

Coming into Game 4 on Friday night, the Penguins had the second-best offense in the league in the playoffs, averaging 2.93 goals.

Their output, however, has been top heavy.

The top four players on the goal-scoring list — Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby — combined for 26 playoff goals.

The other eight forwards who dressed Friday night combined for five. Nick Bonino had two. Matt Cullen, Scott Wilson and Carl Hagelin had one apiece.

Chris Kunitz had none. The last time he scored was when Crosby recorded the 1,000th point of his NHL career Feb. 16 against Winnipeg. Conor Sheary also had none. His last goal came in Matt Murray's previous start: April 6 against New Jersey.

“We have to go out there as a team and execute, push the pace of the game,” Kunitz said. “When we do that, we'll be able to execute. We have skill in the room. We have grit in the room. We can play all (aspects) of the game if we need to.”

Sullivan attempted to blend the skill and grit with his Game 4 line combinations, as he reunited Kunitz with Crosby, moved Scott Wilson up to Malkin's line, placed Sheary with Nick Bonino and Carter Rowney, and gave Josh Archibald a spot on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin.

Not so special

Sidney Crosby's power-play goal in Game 3 snapped Ottawa's four-game streak of successful penalty kills, and the Penguins kept their streak of effective kills intact for a fourth straight game.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher, whose team went eight games without a power-play goal in the playoffs, doubted Friday either team in the Eastern Conference finals will start to pile up points on the man advantage.

“Playoffs have never been about the power play for me,” Boucher said. “You look at all the teams, it's all the same everywhere. The reason is simple. The guys are so dedicated to defending. They're in the lanes and blocking shots with a much higher percentage. It's like there's five goalies out there, and it's very tough to manufacture goals.

“The playoffs are about paying the price. They're about desperation. And there's a lot of that on penalty kills. It's a lot easier to destroy something than it is to build something.”

Daley back on duty

After using Mark Streit as the quarterback of their top power-play unit in Game 3, the Penguins turned back to Trevor Daley for that role in Game 4. Streit was a healthy scratch.

“Those guys are world-class players, so it's a matter of getting them the puck as soon as possible,” Daley said of switching from the second unit to the top one.

Staff writer Jonathan Bombulie contributed. Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.