Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Penguins vs Senators Preview

The Pens' quest to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to da Burgh starts Wednesday night in Mellon Arena when they take on their first round opponent, the:
Ottawa Senators
Since the Pens were unable to secure the Atlantic Division for 2010, they once again start in the 4 hole and this time face the Ottawa Senators. The Sens bring a dangerous combo of scoring talent and shut down defense that can compete with any team on a good night. This balance is rare among NHL Eastern Conference clubs who are either offensive minded (like WAS and PIT) or defensively minded (like NJD and BOS). Does this mean I do not think the Pens can handle this? Absolutely not. They are just going to have to try a bit harder than last year.
The Pens and the Sens have played four times this season, and have split the season series 2-2. What is interesting about this series is that all of the matchups have been quite lopsided for one side or the other with the Pens posting 4-1 and 8-2 victories and the Sens winning 4-1 and 6-2. The two teams have not faced each other since the end of January, however, so expect some reacquainting to be done for the first few games.
One of the keys to this series for the Pens will be controlling shut-down Dman Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov is easily the best defenseman the Sens have and likely one of the best in the NHL. His technique is extremely good and is almost always paired against the opponents top player. The Senators will often use him against Crosby, however it may be beneficial for the Pens to match him (when they have last change at home) with the more powerful and larger Evgeni Malkin. Malkin also has "superstar status", but will match up better against the extremely technical Volchenkov.
Another key to the series will be the physical play. The Pens will have to match the Senators blow for blow on the forecheck and try to neutralize "heavy hitters" like Jarko Ruutu, Chris Neil, and Andy Sutton. They were able to do this in their two wins against Ottawa this year, and should look to do so again.
The final key, especially with all the games being as lopsided as they were, is goaltending. (Pens: Fleury, Senators: Elliott) A turning point in any series, and especially one like this, could be the "stealing of a game" by a goaltender. When a goaltender "steals" a game in the playoffs, it means that he played extremely well and kept his team in the game when their offense/defense was not playing up to par. Fleury was stellar in the playoffs last year, and appears to be ready for another run into the postseason.
Here's what the series looks like:
Game 1 @ PIT- Wed April 14
Game 2 @ PIT- Fri April 16
Game 3 @ OTT- Sun April 18
Game 4 @ OTT- Tues April 20
Game 5 @ PIT (if needed)- Thurs April 22
Game 6 @ OTT (if needed)- Sat April 24
Game 7 @ PIT (if needed)- Tues April 27
(note: the first 6 games should be televised on both FSNPIT and VS)
Around the NHL:
1. Washington Capitals vs 8. Montreal Canadiens
2. New Jersey Devils vs 7. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Buffalo Sabres vs 6. Boston Bruins
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 5. Ottawa Senators
1. San Jose Sharks vs 8. Colorado Avalanche
2. Chicago Blackhawks vs 7. Nashville Predators
3. Vancouver Canucks vs 6. LA Kings
4. Phoenix Coyotes vs 5. Detroit Red Wings
Thats what the first round should look like. Should be an extremely entertaining year. LETS GO PENS!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this penguins vs senators series will most like go to the penguins
they've got a lot of offensive power plus experienced

pens in 5