Zach Sill took a couple of big risks in each of the first two games of the playoff series against the Binghamton Senators.
They weren’t necessarily risks that could jeopardize his teams’ ability to win the game, but rather ones that could jeopardize his health.
Sill had key shot blocks in the second period of Game 1 and again in the third period of Game 2 as Binghamton mounted a comeback attempt. For a physical player who already puts his body on the line each night, going the extra mile to shot blocks is another way to elevate his game for the playoffs.
“In the regular season you might not be as motivated to block as many shots. It might not matter as much as one goal in the playoffs,” he said. “Going into game I have the mentality that if this shot gets by me and in the back of the net, they could win the game.”
Such an approach has motivated not only Sill but all of his teammates to willingly block shots in the postseason. It’s something that has caught the attention of head coach John Hynes.
“We’ve had key blocks,” he said. “We’ve been in some trouble situations in our defensive zone where guys have successfully blocked shots.”
For Sill, blocking shots can be a momentum changer. The first feeling is one of relief that the shot didn’t get by, and then the momentum kicks in.
“I know when I see guys block a shot it gets me going just to see that dedication to team play,” Sill said, adding shot blocking is a risky proposition.
“You don’t know where it’s going to hit you, but you have to do it. Sometimes the D men just shoot to hit you anyway because their mad that you’re blocking their shots. It takes a bit of guts to stand in front of a hard one-timer.”
Another area that has pleased Hynes during the first two games has been the Penguins’ physical play. There have been plenty of hard hits, but few resulting penalties.
“Hard and smart,” Hynes said. “Our discipline has been good. When we’ve had to be physical we have, and when it didn’t make sense to be physical we made the right decision.”
- A win tonight will give the Penguins a sweep as they advance to the second round. It would also give the Penguins a lengthy break in between series. “There is mental stress and physical stress in a playoff series,” Hynes said. “(A lengthy break) isn’t a necessity, but it’s always gives you the chance for more rest.”
- As the series shifts back to the Mohegan Sun Arena for tonight’s Game 3, it will be the first time in the series that Hynes will be able to make the last call on who he puts on the ice. Having the ability to create your own matchups is nice, he said, but it’s something that must be done with caution. “You can get carried away with it at times. You have to be careful of over-coaching the matchups. You’ve got to let the guys play and get them in, particularly this time of year.”