|Penguins' Arron Asham (right) was suspended four games for his crosscheck to Flyers' Brayden Schenn during Game 3 of their playoff series on April 15, 2012. (Tim Shaffer/Reuters)
PHILADELPHIA - The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without forwards James Neal, Arron Asham and Craig Adams -- all suspended -- and injured defenceman Paul Martin tonight when they face elimination in their opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Being shorthanded is nothing new for the Penguins, who have had to cope with the absence of their top talent frequently over the last two years.
"It's almost a sense of normalcy," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, "and part of the obstacles this team has faced and dealt with and dealt with repeatedly is that type of thing. To see the lineup on the board today with Adams, Asham and Neal that's not going to be playing tonight almost gives our team a sense of normalcy and resiliency about how we're going to come out and play tonight."
The Penguins trail their opening series 3-0 and have been outscored 20-12.
Neal was given a one-game suspension for a couple of hits in Game 3, Asham was suspended for four games for a crosscheck to the head of Flyer Brayden Schenn and Adams was given a one-game sitdown for picking up an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of Game 3, an automatic penalty.
Martin was injured by Schenn, who was given a charging penalty, on the hit that led to Asham retaliating for the hit.
Neal was a 40-goal scorer in the regular season and has two goals in the playoffs.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he thinks his club can make up for the lost offence for one game, anyway.
"Yeah, for sure. He's a big part of our offence, but I think we have a lot of depth. That's something we've prided ourselves on all year. I think we are more than capable of providing offence here in the absence of him for one game," said Crosby.
"Whether it's a good or bad thing, we haven't put a full game together yet. Knowing that, it should give us confidence we are quite capable of winning a hockey game and playing the right way. Our focus is more on playing the right way and we like the chances that we will get the right result."
That the Penguins have yet to play a complete 60 minutes has been a recurring theme for the last couple of days. Crosby said it's all been broken down and all that's left is to to show up and put up.
"There's nothing that really needs to be said. We've had a couple of days to digest everything and look at our game. We've talked as a group about what we need to do better and where our game is. All the talking has been done. Now we've got to go out and play," he said.
When asked to assess his team's mood, Byslma said: "I think we're ready to be at our best tonight."
If the Penguins can win tonight, Game 5 will be back in Pittsburgh Friday.
There's a healthy dislike for Crosby here and the Philadelphia Daily News portrayed Crosby in a cowardly lion outfit with the headline "The Cowardly Penguin" in today's editions. "Time to finish off sniveling Sidney," was the kicker.
When shown the cover at the end of his scrum this morning, Crosby said: "That's one of the nicer things they've said about me here."