Down 3-1 in the series, the common thought that runs through your mind, as a player or a fan, is "There is NO tomorrow".
That's the kind of thinking that many will argue is needed in order to beat the odds and win game 5 in Ottawa.
While I believe the intensity level necessary to win game 5 CAN be obtained from that line of thinking, there is also a tremendous pressure that can accompany it, if it dominates your thought process...a pressure that can cause a team to collapse under it.
I know that the time for reflection is usually when the season is over. And since the Senators have NOT YET won 4 games in this series, the season is NOT over. But maybe now isn't such a bad time for the Penguins to reflect a little.
Maybe if they look back to the start of this season, they will remember how so many picked them to be in the NHL cellar again. They will recall having two offensive rookies that had a lot of promise, but not an NHL regular season point to their names. They will remember people questioning whether or not their young goaltender could be a legitimate NHL backstop. And whether or not their defensive play could improve enough to make them even a .500 team.
And if they can remember what it was like to be the Penguins of those early days, then they should think about what their answer would have been, way back then, to this question:
"If you could be in the playoffs, down 3 games to 1 and having to win in Ottawa to keep the series alive, would you take it?"
I'm guessing that, to a man, these guys would have said "In the playoffs? Yeah, we'll take the playoffs no matter what the situation is. As long as we are in them."
Granted, times change, and so do expectations. After winning 47 games and amassing 105 points, this team doesn't want to "settle" for just making the playoffs and bowing out in the first round. But looking back might be the kind of thing that helps set the right mental outlook a they head into a seemingly impossible situation for game 5.
For, in a season that has had so many great "tomorrows", it would be a shame thinking that there isn't going to be another one after game 5.
So, go ahead and play like there is no tomorrow, but don't think there isn't one. Because win or lose, this game is just another necessary step toward the utlimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup. And for this team there will certainly be a tomorrow.
Give it all you got guys...and enjoy the moment.
LET'S GO PENS!!!