Chase The Puck: SCF Game 4 Pregame Thoughts

Game 4 ahead, Pittsburgh holding a 2-1 series leads as Nashville looks for back-to-back wins on home ice.

A few thoughts on what Pittsburgh needs to do at this point in the series.

Hate to state the obvious, but if the Penguins are going to win the series, they’re going to need to shoot the puck. The good news? Pittsburgh has gotten better since Game 1’s dismal performance (and surprising win). The bad news? The team’s elite scorers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were each held without a shot in Game 3.

One of the things I liked about Pittsburgh’s first two games was the fact that Mike Sullivan had Jake Guentzel on a different line from Crosby and Malkin. While I appreciate the chemistry of Guentzel and Crosby in particular, Crosby is being so smothered by the Predators defense that he isn’t able to effectively pass and create plays, let alone shoot and score. Make Nashville decide which of Pittsburgh’s dynamic postseason scorer’s gets Josi-Ellis or Ekholm-Subban and who is more fortunate and faces Irwin-Weber. Not a slight to Irwin and Weber, but with a top 4 as good as Nashville has, there has to be an area the Penguins attack and I don’t think they’ve done a good enough job creating offensive chances, let alone focus on a matchup with a defensive pairing they have a better chance of controlling.

Sullivan has been preaching patience to the Penguins, and he mentioned prior to Game 4 that one of the strength’s of his team is their ability to attack in the tiniest of windows.

“They want to pinch the walls, they want to establish a heavy presence,” said Sullivan. “Our team has the ability to quick strike.”

He’s right. It’s how the Penguins controlled the third period of Game 2 and pulled ahead for the 4-1 win. It’s how Pittsburgh scored in the first three minutes in Game 3. If they can attack against the Predators weakest pairing and in the smallest of windows, I think they’ll generate not only more scoring chances, but more goals as well.

Pittsburgh also needs to get to the net. Nashville crowds the crease of Matt Murray and in Game 3, it finally worked. Pittsburgh has not had any success deflecting pucks, save for a lone shot that hit off a Predators player in Game 1.

It’s not just pucks to the net that the Penguins need, it’s bodies. Even though Crosby is a guy that can move the puck and is so skilled, he’s extremely successful and dangerous to the left of the goalie, right on the edge of the crease. Patric Hornqvist excels there as well. Both on 5-on-5 and power play opportunities, I’d like to see more of Pittsburgh utilizing those players in that location. Even if it means moving Hornqvist to the second power play unit to get two runs of bodies in Pekka Rinne’s line of sight.

Prediction? I’m not one for making these, but people seem to want them. Pittsburgh wins a one-goal game with a late strike from… Phil Kessel.

 

Conference Finals Game 6 Preview with NHL.com’s Dan Rosen

Dan Rosen of NHL.com joins Ashley Chase to preview Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between Pittsburgh and Ottawa, also discussing the Western Conference Final series between Anaheim and Nashville. Both the Penguins and Predators hold 3-2 series leads, one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

Introducing… Chase The Puck!

Hello!

I thought I’d start by introducing myself and my new blog, “Chase The Puck!”

By now you know my name is Ashley Chase. I’ve worked as a television sports anchor/reporter one-woman band for six years, with a two-year stint in sports radio talk and play-by-play prior to television. In 2015, I began working at Robert Morris University in media relations/digital & social media with the men’s hockey team, while providing written and video coverage of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Tribune-Democrat as a freelancer.

That’s the short version.

This is the long version. I grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania with Penguins play-by-play man Mike Lange piped into my eardrums. I didn’t know much about hockey, but I knew that I loved the game. For a long time, that’s all it was, a sport I loved and watched while going through high school and part of college as a serious music student. Things changed and I moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa and after a few years, found myself in a radio class in college with a professor who asked me, “did you ever think about doing sports?” 9-year old me was screaming “YES!” while the 21-year old version firmly answered, “absolutely.” And my broadcasting career was born.

I was a play-by-play & color voice of my college men’s and women’s basketball teams, while I interned with the local radio affiliate that broadcasted USHL hockey games. I ended up calling a variety of games and co-hosting drivetime shows for that radio affiliate through the two years it took me to complete my communications degree. My first full-time job began a month before graduation at a local television station and the rest is history.

While covering the USHL, I had a chance to learn a lot about the game with a much closer look than I ever could have imagined. I knew then that I wanted to work in and around hockey for the rest of my career, in any way I could.

For now, that means working at the jobs I mentioned previously, terrific opportunities with Robert Morris University and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa.

But I want to be doing more.

I’m starting “Chase The Puck” as a way to cover hockey in any way I see fit, from writing about developmental levels of hockey all the way to the NHL, and any topics that relate to the game. I plan to incorporate videos, infographics, Q&A’s, and anything I can to provide further insight into the game of hockey and the people in it. I’ll also be linking to my content from both RMU and the Tribune-Democrat.

My ultimate goal is to be broadcasting hockey and I’m always seeking opportunities to take my game to the next level on the air and as a reporter. For professional inquiries, AshleyChaseTV@gmail.com

Hit me up on Twitter with your questions and I hope you enjoy following along!

– Ashley

#CTP