1. In the wake of the (head) shot heard round the (hockey) world, the Penguins would appear to be largely focused on playing hockey rather than vengeance (which is perhaps one way to distinguish them from their co-Commonwealth brethren):
Rust: "Guys are going to try and stick to their game, maybe play a little bit harder and try to ramp it up a little bit." -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 3, 2017
But the ramped-up physicality of the series and a miscommunication has led to one of the more bizarre acts of this entire circus so far:
Beagle: "Obviously, it wasn't a clean hit, but the playoffs are nasty & that's why we love them, right"— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 3, 2017
To recap, Jay Beagle gives a throwaway quote about playoff nastiness, it’s presented to Phil Kessel out of context, Kessel responds with a conditional statement upon which the condition is clearly not met, and Beagle challenges him to a video game.
For their part, the Caps aren’t necessarily expecting any retaliation during the game:
Trotz on possible retribution tonight: “We’re down 2-1 in this series, and we’re just worrying about winning this hockey game."— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) May 3, 2017
Niskanen expect retaliation? "Possibly. It's a hockey game. Hockey players are emotional guys."— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 3, 2017
The Caps would surely welcome a revenge-minded Penguins club... and the power plays that would ostensibly come along with them. But don’t count on it. This game is simply too important to both clubs.
2. It’s all-hands-on-deck for the Pens, and that may include some guys moving around in the lineup:
Sullivan says it’s possible Guentzel shifts to center: “Every possibility is on the table in this type of a circumstance."— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) May 3, 2017
#Pens coach Sullivan would not disclose his lineup for Game 4. "We're looking at combinations that will give us the best chance to win" -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 3, 2017
Sullivan: "We're not focused on who's not in our lineup. We're focused on who's in our lineup. Those guys are going to help us win a game."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 3, 2017
While the names, numbers and positions might be different, don’t expect much else to change:
Sullivan: "We're not going to change our game plan because someone's out" ... says recipe for success doesn't change without Crosby— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 3, 2017
The Pens aren’t going to try to slow the game down and choke a 2-1 win out of the Caps - they’re still going to press and look for opportunistic chances, just as they have through three games. And the Caps should be ready for it.
3. With emotions running high, one would suspect that the League has told both teams to stick to hockey tonight, and the zebras in charge of Game 4 will take every opportunity to maintain order. Then again, it’s the NHL and the playoffs, so... who knows?
Tasked with peace-keeping this pivotal match are veterans Kelly Sutherland and Steve Kozari. Via Scouting the Refs:
Good luck, gentlemen... you’ll need it.