The Penguins won their series opener with the New York Islanders. Five-nil, and it probably wasn’t that close.
But the Penguins also won the game within the game. The Penguins sowed the seeds for a short series by inflicting collateral damage. The Penguins did things that show up later.
The Islanders have one big-time offensive weapon: John Tavares. Third in the NHL in goals with 28. Listed high on lots of MVP ballots, and rightly so.
The Penguins beat a steady tattoo on Tavares during Game 1. He got zero shots on goal, and got hit every time he touched the puck.
Tavares is definitely feeling that today. Tavares will still be feeling it when the teams reconvene for Game 2 tomorrow night. Collateral damage.
In their locker room, the Penguins are wearing black T-shirts with the number 4 on the back. It’s not a tribute to Mark Eaton, or the Four Horsemen (whooo!) or the pursuit of the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup.
It’s a reminder of how many victories are required to win a series. The Penguins aren’t taking them one game at a time. Coach Dan Bylsma understands the big picture. That’s smart. That’s how Stanley Cups are won.
Photo courtesy of penguins.nhl.com.