Some thoughts and observations after the Penguins’ 7-4 victory at Ottawa on Thursday night in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series.
— The Penguins are up 3-1 after four games against an East playoff opponent for the fourth time in seven series dating to 2008. They’ve swept two of those series. The Penguins are 3-1 in Game 5s over this span.
— C SIDNEY CROSBY’S point-per-game average (2.75) is better than former C MARIO LEMIEUX’S 1992 rate (2.42) over seven games against Washington, during which he amassed a franchise-record 17 points.
— A more realistic franchise record for Crosby: former C RON FRANCIS’ 11 assists in a 1995 series against Washington, another seven-game affair. Crosby has seven assists in this series.
— Crosby’s regular-season tally against Ottawa: 2 goals, 13 points in 17 games. Crosby’s postseason tally against Ottawa: 9 goals, 24 points in 13 games.
— RW TYLER KENNEDY did not look comfortable as he hobbled to the bench early in the second period. He was run into the boards by Ottawa D ANDY SUTTON, whose clean hit appeared to pin Kennedy’s right leg as momentum dragged them a couple of strides. Kennedy lifted his right leg as he approached the bench and did not return. He finished with only 3:37 of ice time, and HC DAN BYLSMA said he had no update on Kennedy’s condition.
— An interesting quote from RW CRAIG ADAMS that captures the feeling among Penguins: “We’re certainly not playing a perfect game out there. … I feel like we keep saying we’re a work in progress, but we’re headed in the right direction.” Adams added that the Senators have “given us everything we can handle” – a sentiment that seems to fit my working theory going into the playoffs that Ottawa was a tough matchup for the Penguins, and the best recipe for their seemingly malaise late in the regular season.
— D BROOKS ORPIK has been credited with 18 hits through four games. Reason No. 1,856 since I’ve taken over this beat that I don’t trust most non-scoring status on final NHL scoresheets.
Off to Syracuse, N.Y., and then back to Pittsburgh for Game 5. A quick story first:
Before the Penguins’ morning practice Tuesday, I approached Bylsma and asked him to plead with the team to “win the next two games for me.”
To fend off the journalism ethics police: No, I wasn’t rooting for a team, just a situation that would allow me to avoid another drive to Ottawa for Game 6.
Bylsma’s response: “I’ll be sure that this is our motivation.”
I offered to sweeten the pot.
“Tell you what,” I said. “Wrap this up in five games and you’ll probably have a few off-days between the next series. I’ll not show up for most of them; so, by winning, you get to see less of me.”
Blysma smiled … at the prospect, I can only presume.
“Is anything with you not self-serving?” he said, tongue firmly in cheek.
“No,” I said. “But I think a few days of not seeing me would be in your best interests, too.”
I’m not saying he told Crosby to go out and make a run at ending this series fast because there was the carrot of me not covering a few off-day practices.
I’m not ruling it out, either.
— BY ROB ROSSI