This 'Mindset-Type' Series Is A Tough One To Play In

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Penguins will continue their defense of the Stanley Cup tonight in Ottawa for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Senators with the series tied at one. The Pens come off what was considered to be two very physical series wins against Columbus and Washington and are now facing a different kind of beast in the Senators.

NHL Network’s Billy Jaffe is part of the network’s live coverage of the series and took the time to join “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday. Jaffe says that this series isn’t for the faint of heart and will take a lot of work to grit through for the Pens, considering the style of play needed to beat the Sens.

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“It’s a tough way to play, it’s a heavy, heavy forecheck. If you miss just by a little bit, you’re kind of chasing the play the other way,” said Jaffe. “This is a mindset-type of series, especially now given these injuries for the Penguins. This is going to be a mental grind for both of these teams but in particular, the Penguins. They want to play fast, they want to play with the puck, but they are going to have to go about getting it on the forecheck in a little different way they used to in the past.”

Jaffe did say, though, that if the Penguins continue their play from Monday night they have a great chance.

“If they can play the way they did in Game 2, they’re going to be alright in this series. But, it’s a physically and mentally hard way to play all the time,” he said.

The Penguins did suffer some injuries in Game 2, as defenseman Justin Schultz and winger Bryan Rust were both knocked out of the game. If Schultz can’t go, Mark Streit would most likely be the “next man up” to take his place in the lineup.

“I think he can bring it still, he’s a smart defenseman, he’s got to make sure to play within himself,” said Jaffe. “See, I think he can help the power play. You can limit his minutes if you’re comfortable with playing [Brian] Dumoulin more, are you okay with having Chad Rudwedel at the 17, 18, 19 minute [marks] regularly? But I think if you spot Mark Streit in the right spot, I think Streit can be right for this team. Pardon the pun right there, but I think he can be right for this team in this situation. I do think he can help the power play on the second unit.”

On the other side, Jaffe says the Senators have to feel pretty good about how the first two games have gone and how they can dictate play going back home for Games 3 and 4.

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“They’re saying, ‘alright, we accomplished what we wanted to,'” said Jaffe. “‘We didn’t play as well in the third period in Game 2 as we think we could have, but you know what? We’re playing a heck of a team in the Pittsburgh Penguins so we’ve done what we’ve had to go and do. We’re going to try to establish our presence even more back at home.'”

He says that even if the Pens jump on them and score first in Game 3, the Senators won’t panic and will stick to their game.

“They’re buying in this year. Does it change if they’re down 2-0? Oh, sure it forces them to try to make a few more plays transitionally, or at least in the neutral zone, but I think they’re believing in their system,” Jaffe said. “They’re not going to all of the sudden say, ‘OK, instead of playing this 1-3-1 that got us this far we are going to all of the sudden start cherry-picking, I don’t see that yet.”

Jaffe also said to watch out for the Senators having the tendency to open things up a little more offensively now that they are back home and playing in front of their crowd in Games 3 and 4 and that it’s important to remember that the New York Rangers got up early multiple times against Ottawa in their previous series and the Senators came back in those games.

You can hear the entire interview with NHL Network’s Billy Jaffe on the Fan Morning Show below.

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