Not all regular-season goals met yet

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Penguins own the Atlantic Division championship. They're assured of having no worse than the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, too.

That doesn't mean they have run out of objectives as they enter the final sixth of the regular season with a game against Tampa Bay tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"You're looking at [trying to secure] the best seeding you possibly can when you go down the stretch," coach Dan Bylsma said.

Indeed, the Penguins would like to lock up the top seed in the conference -- and, for that matter, the entire league -- although they view that more as a potential byproduct of playing well than an isolated goal.

"It's nice to start at home in the playoffs, but I don't think our mentality is to win that [top seed]," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "Just go to the next game, win that game and go from there."

The Penguins have lost to lower-seeded teams each of the past three springs, so they are aware that landing a high seed carries no guarantees. Still, they aren't going to object if they lock up the No. 1 seed in the conference or league, especially if it results from a strong performance over the final eight regular-season games.

"The goal is to keep getting better as a team and keep winning games," winger Jarome Iginla said. "I think that if you'd ask the guys, it would be a goal.

"[But more important is to] just to keep feeling and playing better as a group, going into the playoffs. That means winning games and feeling good about yourself, too, right?"

Different flight plans

The Penguins stayed in Raleigh after the 5-3 win Tuesday night against Carolina and practiced there in early afternoon before flying to Tampa.

They rarely stayed overnight like that in recent seasons, at least since they began traveling on charter flights instead of commercial ones, but it has happened several times this year and will occur again after they play Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.

But even though some players would prefer to travel immediately after games, generally because they need a few hours to wind down before they can even think about sleeping, there are others who don't mind hanging around a city for an extra eight or 12 or 16 hours.

"Personally, I've liked it," forward Craig Adams said. "You can have a good meal after the game [and] just kind of relax.

"When we travel right after the game, when we get to the city we're going to, we get the second choice of ice times [for practices]. It's not like we get there, and then we practice at 11 [the next morning].

"We don't practice until 1 or 2 [in the afternoon], so your whole day is wasted, almost, anyway. In that case, I'd rather stay and fly during the day."

A tall order

Goalie Ben Bishop, acquired recently from Ottawa, has started the Lightning's past four games.

Regardless of whether Tampa coach Jon Cooper opts to stick with him or use Anders Lindback tonight, the Penguins can be sure of one thing: They'll be shooting at a tall guy.

Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, is 6 feet 7, while Lindback checks in at 6-6.

Anything after the first four feet is above the crossbar, of course, but tall goalies often seem to take up even more of the net than others. If the Penguins have a particular way of attacking the Tampa Bay goalies in mind, they're not divulging it, but Iginla said the idea is basic.

"You just shoot," he said. "You don't aim. It's different. You don't go down the [boards] and see spots. You have to shoot to a spot and maybe they move and you hit it. Just shoot. Don't aim."


Injured Penguins center Sidney Crosby has a six-point lead over Steve Stamkos of Tampa Bay in the NHL scoring race. ... Former Penguins winger Ryan Malone rejoined Tampa Bay's lineup for a 3-2 victory Tuesday against Ottawa after missing eight games because of a left shoulder injury. An undisclosed injury forced him to miss 13 earlier games. ... Tampa Bay is 3-2-1 since Cooper replaced Guy Boucher as coach.

mobilehome - penguins


You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here