In the playoffs, details make the difference.
Heading into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Pittsburgh Penguin have had the measure of the San Jose Sharks in terms of shot differential. Looking at the game tape, we can see that one of the contributing factors is the way both teams defend the rush.
As a group, the Pens’ defensive corps is fleet-footed and blessed with good offensive acumen. They are also undersized and prone to being muscled off the puck by San Jose’s skilled forwards. In order to minimize their exposure to defensive-zone breakdowns and to maximize the team’s speed and skill, the Penguins have been playing a very tight gap across the neutral zone, funneling San Jose puck carriers toward the end boards and standing up at the red line in order to encourage the Sharks to dump the puck in.
A hallmark of the Mike Sullivan-coached Penguins is the team’s attacking mindset on and off the puck, as evidenced by the way they suppress the San Jose transition game.