Bundle up if you’re heading to the arena tonight. If I did the “Dress for Success” feature this week, I’d be talking about the extra layers of a T-shirt and Under Armour I’m wearing to make the long trek through the parking lot.
Once inside, I’d expect the on-ice action to be a little more heated between the Penguins and Bridgeport. With the latter only four points behind WBS, this game takes on an added degree of importance. So, here are some keys for the Penguins in tonight’s game:
Pressure the goalie early
Finnish netminder Chris Gibson, who I would assume gets the start, is very streaky; when he’s on, he’s really tough to stop. He’s won in four of his past five appearances and allowed one or fewer goals four times.
So, whether it’s he or Kristers Gudlevskis in goal, start getting shots on him early and keep up that pressure. Even with Tanner Fritz up with the Islanders, the Sound Tigers have the offensive firepower to easily put up three or more goals. The Penguins are going to need to counter often and hope a few of those pucks wind up in the net.
Not to mention, Bridgeport is coming off a 5-0 beatdown a couple days ago. Don’t give it any added confidence to begin the game.
Keep on killing
The Sound Tigers have a potent power play at 20 percent, so the Penguins’ penalty kill has its work cut out for it tonight.
But, WBS was successful on all 11 of its kills last weekend and never trailed in either game as a result. Keep that momentum going and make the Sound Tigers beat you in 5-on-5 situations.
Keep the balance
A different Penguins player has seemed to emerge with key goals or plays on a bi-weekly basis this season. Lately, it’s been Zach Aston-Reese with his shorthanded goal last Friday and second-period goal on Saturday.
So with Daniel Sprong now in Pittsburgh, there’s no need for the Penguins to get away from their identity as a balanced offensive team that performs at its best when everyone is involved. One player cannot make up for 18 goals worth of production.
Keep up the solid forecheck and don’t try too hard to make the extra move to the net if the easier play is available.