PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Penguins forward Lee Stempniak joined The Cook and Poni Show on Thursday to help preview the second round of the Stanley Cup Finals, which begins Friday night against the New York Rangers at CONSOL Energy Center.
Stempniak said it was going to be a challenge for this Pens team no matter who won last night’s Game 7 between the Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers.
“Both are very good teams,” Stempniak said. “A lot hinges on how we play, but this will be a huge test for us.”
Stempniak says he has never been a part of a team that had such a short turnaround like the Rangers will face when they play Friday night after playing Games 6 and 7 back to back.
He says these are playoff games and the adrenaline will take over for both teams.
Stempniak says it’s been exciting to be a part of this Pens’ team who has so many expectations.
“It’s been exciting to be a part of team that if you don’t win the Stanley Cup, it’s a disappointing season,” Stempniak said. “This is a team that plays a fast game with an aggressive style. It’s different coming from Calgary where we played defensively because we didn’t have the talent this team does.”
Stempniak says he has loved every minute of his time with the Pens and he likes being able to play on a line with Sidney Crosby and he also scored his first ever playoff goal in Game 3. He admits it’s been tough to adjust to being on a line with Crosby.
“You feel more comfortable the more you play with him,” Stempniak said. “Everyone knows you are trying to get the puck to Sid and they lock down and play it tight and it makes it difficult to get him the puck.”
He also tells the guys that he believes Crosby is ready to break out in these playoffs. He says he is so dangerous on the ice because he creates so much more room for the other guys because of the attention he demands.
Stempniak says nobody is worried about Crosby moving forward. He also says everyone has complete faith in goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“He has given us a chance to win every game,” Stempniak added. “He has been great. There is always a play or two every player would like to have back, but his are magnified because he is a goalie. We have complete trust and confidence in him. He has played great.”
The Pens and Rangers open the series Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center.