Penguins notebook: Bylsma wants to finish series in Game 5
Head coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins wanted no part of allowing this Stanley Cup second-round series against the Rangers to become a best-of-three.
Similarly, Bylsma and the rest of the Penguins want to avoid a trip to New York for Game 6.
Bylsma, speaking at Consol Energy Center on an off day for his players, believes closing out the series in Game 5 Friday is imperative.
“We don't want to give them any life or give them any opportunity,” Bylsma said. “We have that ability, coming back here at Consol, with our fans in our building, to get the fourth win.”
Bylsma also noted how quickly a series can swing, especially with how compressed the schedule has been in this one.
It was only a week ago that Derick Brassard's overtime goal put the Penguins in an early hole. Now, they could be lining up for handshakes.
“It wasn't that long ago where you lose in overtime in Game 1 and you're down in the series, lose home-ice advantage, and you're going into Game 2 almost in desperation mode to win a hockey game,” Bylsma said.
“The schedule has been quick and furious. We played (Games) 2 and 3 back-to-back, then (Game) 4. In pretty shorter order, it has kind of changed.
“But it's only three wins. That gets us nothing. We have that opportunity back here for Game 5, and we have to be as desperate as we can all playoffs long to get that fourth win here at home.”
The Penguins quietly have raised their faceoff mark from 48.4 percent against Columbus to 50.7 percent overall in these Stanley Cup playoffs thanks to a superb performance against the Rangers.
In four games, those taking draws have gone 131-110, a success rate of 54.4 percent.
Brandon Sutter, who won 50 percent (46 of 92) of his draws against Columbus, has gone 36-24 (60 percent) against the Rangers. Fellow center Marcel Goc is winning 60 percent of his faceoffs (26 of 43) in Round 2.
“Marcel is strong on the left dot, Brandon on the right dot,” Bylsma said. “(Sidney Crosby) has been good in the circle as well. We've been able to utilize our different guys on the different matchups to hopefully try to get an advantage in the circle.”
New injury for Orpik
Bylsma confirmed that defenseman Brooks Orpik missed the final two periods of Game 4 because of a new injury, not an aggravation of the one that kept Orpik out of the lineup for the previous five games.
The nature of Orpik's original injury was not known, and the Penguins' policy is not to provide details of injuries during the playoffs.
Talking about practice
The Penguins took Thursday off. The Rangers, who by Friday will have played on 12 of 23 days since the start of the playoffs, including seven of the past 11, practiced at MSG Training Center.
Count center Brad Richards among those who was probably checking his watch a few times Thursday.
“The quicker we get this day over and get to game day the better,” Richards said.
Staal in denial
Himself a victim of several head injuries, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal denied that he has been targeting Sidney Crosby.
“That's news to me,” Staal told reporters in New York. “I'm not purposely trying to go for anybody's head. I, for one, should know the cost of that.”
Staal missed 10 games with a concussion earlier this season and was limited to 67 between 2011-13 because of an orbital fracture and a concussion.
Tickets for Game 5 on Friday night remain available for purchase. The Penguins encourage fans to use Ticketmaster's website and outlets or the Consol Energy Center box office.
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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