Pens All In
Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 6:47 PM ET / 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Coverage
By Sam Kasan
It’s do or die for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Trailing 3-0 in their opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins understand that every time they step on the ice they’ll need to play their best in order to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.
Despite their current predicament, the Penguins haven’t lost the confidence in their own game or the belief that they are a championship-caliber team.
For the first time this season, the Penguins will face elimination when they battle the Flyers in Game 4 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We can’t change the outcome of the first three games or how we played in the first three games,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “But the one thing that is in our control is how we move forward and how we play in Game 4. Just got to believe in the guys in here and try to block out everything else that is being said about us outside the room.”
“Our backs are against the wall and we have no choice,” veteran forward Steve Sullivan said. “We have to worry about the first period, the first 20 minutes and go from there. We know what’s at stake. We have a lot of pride in this dressing room. We know you’ll see our best hockey in Game 4.”
The Penguins are a veteran group that has been through many highs and lows in their careers. They will not go down without a fight.
“We have a lot of guys that have a lot of pride,” Orpik said. “We had 108 points in the regular season. This is a room of good hockey players.”
“We’ve just got to make sure every one of us goes there and does our best,” blueliner Zbynek Michalek said. “The rest of it will take care of itself. We know that we’ve got a lot of pride in here in this group.”
While history says overcoming a three-game deficit in a best-of-seven series is not usual, it is not impossible. Three teams in the history of the National Hockey League have overcome 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series, including the Flyers two seasons ago while en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance (Toronto over Detroit, Stanley Cup Final, 1942; NY Islanders over Pittsburgh, conference quarterfinals, 1975; Philadelphia over Boston, conference semifinals, 2010).
The only other non-NHL team in professional sports to overcome a 3-0 series deficit with four straight wins to win a best-of-seven contest was Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. After losing the first three games of the 2004 American League Championship Series to hated rival New York Yankees, the Red Sox came back to win four consecutive games to top the Yankees en route to winning their first World Series championship since 1918 – an 86-year gap.
Will history be made again in 2012?
The Penguins have been a resilient team over the past few seasons and seem to thrive on adversity. During their Stanley Cup championship run they overcame two 2-0 series deficits (Washington and Detroit) and were victorious in seven games in each series. Pittsburgh won four out of five games against the defending champion Red Wings, including a Game 7 victory in Detroit to win the franchise’s third Stanley Cup.
One thing is for sure, the attitude in the Penguins locker room is that this series is far from over. And you can expect to see a desperate hockey club hit the ice in Philadelphia Wednesday night.
“There is no tomorrow,” forward Chris Kunitz said. “We will leave it all out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re down by a goal with 30 second to go or up by two with 30 seconds to go. We have to play right through to the end on both ends.”
“We’ve got to find a way to win a hockey game,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “When there’s adversity, that’s when you see guys’ true colors. I think we’ll show that (Wednesday). We’re going to leave it all out there and give ourselves a chance to try and get back in this series.”