Penguins need to drop 'burden of expectation'

Columbus Blue Jackets Cam Atkinson (13) fights for possession with Pittsburgh Penguins Rob Scuderi...

Columbus Blue Jackets Cam Atkinson (13) fights for possession with Pittsburgh Penguins Rob Scuderi (4) during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. (Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports)

Terry Koshan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:13 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — The solution to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ inconsistent hockey is straightforward, defenceman Rob Scuderi figured.

“We have to play without the burden of expectation and just play the game,” Scuderi said on Saturday morning at the Consol Energy Centre.

“We’re confident we have a good team in here. We have good coaches, we have a good plan. But sometimes we are held back by the fear of losing.

“You have to accept losing as a possibility, but you can’t let it paralyze what you are trying to do, which is win a series. I hope we can let go of that.”

The Penguins and Columbus Jackets have two wins each after four games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

The winner of Game 5 on Saturday night will have an opportunity to take the series in Game 6 on Monday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Each team twice has blown a multiple-goal lead and gone on to lose that game.

Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik did not participate in the morning skate after leaving practice early on Friday.

“Brooks Orpik skated at an undisclosed location with David Backes this morning,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said to open his media conference, drawing a few laughs. Backes, the St. Louis Blues' captain, returned to his team’s lineup on Friday night after missing a couple of games with a head injury.

But Bylsma wouldn’t otherwise give an update on Orpik, only saying the “lineup is game time.” If Orpik can’t play, one of Robert Bortuzzo or Deryk Engelland will play.

Both teams will be bolstered by the return of injured players.

Columbus defencemen Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray will be in the lineup, while the Penguins will have centre Marcel Goc on the fourth line between Tanner Glass and Craig Adams.

“I hope right away,” Goc said of the impact he expects to make. “I feel good. I have had a couple practices here, get a hit, give a hit, should be good from there.”

Goc will replace Jayson Megna.

Jackets centre Brandon Dubinsky, who not only has done a fine job of checking Sidney Crosby but also has more points (six to Crosby’s four), guessed that the Jackets will see a re-focused Penguins side.

“They are going to come and push right away,” Dubinsky said. “After what happened last game (a 4-3 overtime win by Columbus), I think they are going to have extra juice. I expect Sid and (Evgeni) Malkin to come out and really step up their games.

“We believe we can win in this building. It’s going to take a hell of an effort, though.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

@koshtorontosun


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