Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Pens vs. Sens Series PREVIEW...Game 1 tomorrow
Guess who's back, back again. The Sens are back, tell a friend? There's a good chance that even your friend knows the Pens/Sens will square off yet AGAIN, for the 3rd time in the past 4 years. Three years ago it was the Sens who ran over the young and inexperienced Pens in 5 games and just one year later it was Hossa and the Pens who swept the series.
But this year's gonna be different, right? The Sens are more systematic then they were a couple seasons back but they're also not as deep. No Heatley, Kovy is injured and so is Kuba (a top 4 d-men). Goalie Marty Gerber was the only bright spot a couple years back, can Elliott do the same? He has a better save percentage than our very own MAF, but he has yet to feel the nerves and intensity that come with the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Pens are 2-2 against the Sens on the season. Each game was pretty one-sided.
What will lead Pens to victory? For one their offense and second their goaltending. Fleury has yet to hit his mojo of playing consistent hockey but the playoffs seem to be his coming out party every year. And the offense has to get going. Malkin is healthy and looked extremely scary vs. the Isles on Sunday, can he continue? And will Poni and Feds start rallying behind him, because they sure as hell need to.
Crosby will be seeing some familiar d-men in his grill, Phillips and the "Russian Tank" Volchenkov. Both are extremely tough to play against, but the next thing closest to God or Neo from The Matrix seems to be Crosby. It looks as though Sutton/Campoli will matchup against the 2nd unit (Geno's line) and that won't be easy either. The Sens WILL take stupid penalties because the Pens like to control the puck and the Sens have several edgy players: Neil, Ruutu, Carkner, Fisher, and Winchester. Neil/Ruutu are known for dumb penalties.
The Pens PP has to capitalize, and that means Gonchar time. One bright spot on the backend the past couple weeks has been Leopold. He has 4 goals and does an excellent job of jumping into plays and getting pucks on net. Gogo on the other hand has been atrocious. The 3rd line is also starting to play with some poise as it did during last year's cup run. With an injury ridden backend and a lack of secondary scoring for the Sens, the Pens have the edge in the series. Not to mention in goal. Elliott has played better than Fleury, but he also doesn't have a Cup.
Sens players to watch: Michalek, Fisher, and Spezza. Michalek is very strong on his skates and is fast as hell. And the other two guys can wake up and be machines if they want to as well.
Pens players to watch: Malkin, Dupuis, and Fedotenko. Dupuis has had an excellent season and he'll need to keep his offensive prowess in tact during the playoffs. Will the legend of Ruslan Fedotenko wake up and start scoring? God I hope so. Orpik and Poni will play tomorrow, but Kunitz is still questionable. Rupp will play if Kunitz can't, and Talbot will be scratched if Kunitz can.
Pens win series in 6. Too much offense and better goaltending will help them prevail. I give the defense edge to the Sens but we'll see how long they can keep either Sid/Geno off the board. Two is better than one, just ask Taylor Swift.