Commentary

How to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins

Control of special teams play could be key to ending Pens' run

Updated: April 10, 2011, 4:45 PM ET
By Craig Button | Special to ESPN Insider
Sidney CrosbyJoel Auerbach/Getty ImagesThe Penguins' success in this year's playoffs will depend on the health of Sidney Crosby.

Winning four games in an NHL playoff series requires a focus and understanding of specific goals that must be accomplished on the ice. Those goals, which go far deeper than putting the puck in the net, are the blueprint to beating an opponent. That schematic will contain critical points on how to seize momentum in games, how to effectively pressure the opposition, how to disrupt their rhythm and establish your own and, finally, how to neutralize the skills of key players on the other team.

If executed correctly, that plan will eliminate your opponent's strengths, exploit their weaknesses and ultimately put you through to the next round.

In preparation for the first round of the NHL playoffs, we've scouted the top four seeds in the East and West, identifying three strengths for each and how to limit their impact. We've also identified an X Factor that could be exploited in order to unseat each of them.

Here we examine how to halt the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Craig Button contributes regularly to ESPN Insider. Since 1988, Button has worked in the NHL as a scout and later as director of scouting with the Minnesota North Stars, becoming director of player personnel after the franchise relocated to Dallas. He later served as vice president and general manager of the Calgary Flames. He currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network.