UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- "We have all the tools to be successful. We just have to pull together, play the same way. I think that’s the key in the playoffs: Everybody’s got to pull in the same direction."
This was Kris Letang earlier in the week. He was assessing these Penguins' chance at another Stanley Cup championship. And he was, of course, correct. They do have the tools. They've got the skill, the speed, the smarts and, maybe above all at this stage of the stars' careers, they've got the pedigree.
But when they aren't dedicated to what Letang's describing above, as we all witnessed again and again over the past winter, none of that matters.
Another parade down the Boulevard?
Hey, sure. I mean, show me one team the Penguins can't beat in a best-of-seven -- Lightning, Capitals, anyone -- when they're doing that proper pulling. They're capable of outperforming anyone, including over a full series. Not outlasting or out-lucking them. Hardcore outperforming. I firmly believe that.
At the same time, show me that other thing that they do, and I'll show you the Islanders, against all odds, advancing to the second round. Because to win four series, that consistency's got to be concretely entrenched, not subject to an on-off switch. And to win the fourth series, they've got to win the first.
So right here, right now, a few hours from the 7:38 p.m. faceoff of Game 1 inside old Nassau Coliseum, I'll humbly offer six ways to escape this round on the road to a sixth Cup: