This Is Their Thermopylae

 

Is this the end of the line for the Penguins?  Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter.  Today is no longer an elimination game, it is a gut check.

This is a test for Pittsburgh, to show if they still have it.  If they can play hockey, actually, play hockey.

Today is no longer a game, it is going to show Pittsburgh’s character, Pittsburgh’s heart, and most of all it reputation. 

Mario Lemieux shook his head, said this wasn’t his team, and was embarrassed by their actions.  Pittsburgh fans and writers alike have been horrified by the actions taken in game 3.  It is up to the Pens to change that.  Only, the pens can change that.

Today they will look a little bit different as the suspensions have changed the lineup.  Dustin Jeffrey, Joe Vital, and Richard Park will now lead a surprisingly skilled 4th line.  Jordan Staal will center a bruising line of Matt Cooke and Eric Tangradi.  Malkin will center Kennedy and Kunitz, while Crosby centers Dupuis and Sullivan. 

Simon Despres was called up from the Minors during the AHL playoffs, so he will be playing tonight.  Who he will be playing for is going to be no surprise as Paul Martin is out for the game tonight.  For once, we might see heart out of this lineup.  Some young players mixed with some vets, this could finally be their break out. 

This could be the Penguins last chance to at least show they still want to play.  This is no longer about winning a series.  This is about maintaining pride and re-establishing the reputation of the Penguins.  It doesn’t even have to come with a win, just one last stand for what Penguins hockey is supposed to be, not what it has become.