|Ottawa Senators||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|5-on-5 Save %||.934||1st||.928||4th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.27||17th||3.54||6th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.48||20th||3.48||20th|
This series presents a fascinating contrast in styles, as the high-flying Penguins will face a tough defensive opponent in Ottawa. That contrast will show up both in even-strength and special teams, where Pittsburgh's top-notch power play will have to break through against one of the stingiest penalty killing units in the NHL. A key to success for the Senators will be to minimize the number of times they have to fight that battle, by staying out of the penalty box as much as they can.
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The Pens got quite a scare from the New York Islanders, and have an important question to address in goal. Do they stick with Tomas Vokoun, who led them to victory in Games 5 & 6 to finish off New York, or do they go back to their "#1" netminder Marc-Andre Fleury? I suspect that even if Fleury gets the chance to start again, he will be on the proverbial "short leash" and Vokoun needs to be ready for duty (to the delight of Preds fans).
|2012 - Marc-Andre Fleury||33||1858||23||8||0||74||2.39||881||807||.916||1|
Over at Pensburgh, they are relishing the chance for Pittsburgh to become a stronger team after their first-round test:
The day after the Game 4 loss, Iginla told the media, "This could be great for us." That really struck a chord with me. It was such an unexpected thing to say especially all things considered, but we can now look back at that line and see exactly what it meant.
This was great for the Pens who are now moving forward to face the Ottawa Senators in a few days. They understand they need more urgency each game and that they need to put in more effort than simply showing up as a talent team. The Pens benefited more coming out of a tough series with a few painful lessons learned as opposed to a clean sweep with no new insight to bring to the next round. Though as they're about to face a physically intimidating Senators team, having a few more days off would've been nice.
The Sens are the surprise hit of the season, considering the major injury issues they've had to work through just to make the playoffs, let alone beat Montreal in the first round. Getting back Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson at the tail end of the regular season provided a , but now it sounds like star center Jason Spezza is due to return soon as well, giving the gang at Silver Seven reason for hope:
Spezza practiced with the team on Sunday. It's still unclear when he might return to the lineup, but if he can make it back before the end of Round Two, it'll be big for the Sens' offence. The first concern will be Spezza's health and whether there's a serious risk of re-aggravating the injury he's currently trying to return from, but if soreness and/or fitness is all that's holding him back, his return will be huge. Even if Spezza himself isn't able to produce, he'll draw some of the Penguin's top defenders away from guys like Turris and Mika Zibanejad, giving those two a bit more room to work. We'll see if anything happens here, but Spezza's return would be huge.
The guy who will be in the spotlight most often, however, will be goaltender Craig Anderson, who had a stellar regular season and appears to be in the game-stealing mode that he showed previously in Florida & Colorado. Can he slow down Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin, who put up just shy of two points per game against the Islanders?
|2012 - Craig Anderson||24||1421||12||9||2||40||1.69||677||637||.941||3|
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators TV Schedule
|Tuesday, May 14||6:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh||NBCSN, CBC, RDS|
|Friday, May 17||6:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh||NBCSN, CBC|
|Sunday, May 19||6:30 p.m.||Ottawa||CBC, RDS, NBCSN|
|Wednesday, May 22||6:30 p.m.||Ottawa||CBC, RDS, NBCSN|
|* Friday, May 24||6:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh||NBCSN, CBC, RDS|
|* Sunday, May 26||TBD||Ottawa||RDS, TBD|
|* Tuesday, May 28||TBD||Pittsburgh||RDS, TBD|
OTF Staff Picks
|Dirk||Pittsburgh||This should be a doozy, as Ottawa could have an important edge in goal if the Pens feel the need to get Marc-Andre Fleury back in there. In the end, however, I like the Penguins to move on.|
|Jonathan||Pittsburgh||The Penguins had a bit of a scare last round when the Islanders challenged them more than I think they were ready for. Now that their Fleury problem out of the way, they can work on being better defensively. The problem that arises is Anderson is worlds better than Nabokov. Ottawa can't match the Pens firepower, but they can definitely stifle them defensively. This one is going to go 7, and I can definitely see an upset. But at the end of the day, the Penguins are going to score more than the Senators.|
|Chris||Ottawa||My heart says Ottawa, but my brain says Pittsburgh. While the brain usually wins over the heart, it's the playoffs. Anything can happen right now and I will take Anderson over either of Pittsburgh's net minders. Ottawa in 7.|
|George||Ottawa||Ray Shero should win GM of the Year for going out and getting the half dozen pieces he got to make a run at this year's Stanley Cup (and probably next year's, too). But Marc Andre Fleury is on another planet, and not in a good way. Tomas Vokoun has been good in relief, but can he hold up against the relentless Ottawa squad? The Sens PK was as close to perfect as anyone got during the regular season. Ottawa in 7.|
|Jason||Ottawa||Pittsburgh doesn't look so good to me after the Islanders series. Senators in 6.|