Sidney Crosby entered the NHL at age 18 and was known for years as Sid the Kid. Eleven years later, the Pittsburgh Penguins are transforming themselves into Sid and the Kids.
Those kids -- a half-dozen fresh faces who spent part of the season in the minors -- outskated and outscored the more mature San Jose Sharks in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals. With Pittsburgh owning a 2-0 series lead, Game 3 becomes ultra imperative to the Sharks as the finals shift to San Jose on Saturday night.
"(But) this isn't over until the other team wins four games," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Friday. "We've got to take care of business here at home."
Still, not only did Kris Letang and an otherwise largely unknown cast of Penguins defensemen limit the Sharks' scoring chances in the first two games -- San Jose scored only two even-strength goals -- rookies Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust scored critical goals in each game.
And while Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray didn't face a ton of shots in the two games, he displayed a coolest-guy-in-the-room mentality -- unusual for a player who has had more career games in the playoffs than in the NHL regular season.
"We're motivated from within, I think," Murray said Friday. "We just want to win like everyone else."
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan likes that kind of talk.
"The dynamic that's taking place in the locker room right now ... we really like the mix we have of our veteran players and our young guys that are bringing the energy and enthusiasm to the rink every day," Sullivan said. "I think we've got a close-knit locker room. These guys really enjoy playing for one another. That's really a powerful dynamic."
No wonder the Sharks know what they're up against in the first Stanley Cup finals game ever played in San Jose, where they are 7-2 in the playoffs this season:
--Counter the Penguins' speed with puck control and take a lot more shots on Murray. To do that, they obviously need more production from Stanley Cup playoffs goal-scoring leader Joe Pavelski (zero goals, three shots in the first two games) and longtime ace forward Joe Thornton, who doesn't have a goal in his last eight playoff games. None of their top four scorers -- Pavelski, Thornton, forward Logan Couture and defenseman Brent Burns -- has scored in the series.
Left winger Tomas Hertl, who has been effective with four goals in eight games, didn't practice Friday because DeBoer said "he's got a little something that kept him off." His status for Game 3 will be determined Saturday.
--Take some pressure off goalie Martin Jones, their best player in the finals so far, by preventing Pittsburgh from keeping the puck in the Sharks' zone for minutes at a time -- as happened on multiple occasions in Pittsburgh.
"We make all lineup decisions the day of the game," DeBoer said.
--Start getting shots through; the Penguins blocked an unusually high number in the first two games. Center Nick Bonino has 10 blocks by himself. And they could use some scoring from the top power-play group in the playoffs so far.
--They must win more faceoffs from Crosby, whose faceoff win -- and the set play he ran off it -- led to Pittsburgh' winning overtime goal in Game 2.
Crosby so frustrated Couture while winning 17 of 24 faceoffs in Game 2 that Couture accused him of cheating, saying, "He gets away with that. He's Sidney Crosby. He times them, and yet they don't kick him out for some reason."
Crosby doesn't have a goal yet in the finals, but he has often been the fastest player on the fastest team in the postseason and, as Sullivan said, "He's been a horse."
One the Penguins hope to ride to two more wins and their fourth Stanley Cup in 25 years.