NHL Playoffs Round 2 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators


Feb 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ottawa Senators center Jim O

Round two of the NHL Playoffs starts tonight. A 7:30 pm face-off is set for the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators. The Senators finished the regular season with a record of 25-17-6, that record was good for 7th overall in the Eastern Conference. The Senators earned the right to take on the second seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Ottawa was able to beat the Canadiens in just five games (4-1). Pittsburgh ended the regular season with a record of 36-12-0.  The number one seed Penguins took on the eighth seeded New York Islanders in what turned out to be one of the top series in round one. The Penguins were able to crawl out of round one (4-2). This round two match-up should prove to be classic Playoff series. Pittsburgh beat the Senators three games to none during the regular season, but I’m not sure that this series will go the same way.

The Senators are a defensive team, they do not try to do too much. During the regular season the Sens had a goal differential of +12. The offensive style of the Penguins lead to a goal differential of +46. Pittsburgh had trouble playing the more physical Islanders, and they will be seeing more hard-hitting in your face play from the Senators. In order for the Penguins to move on to round three they will need to solve Craig Anderson. The Ottawa goal tender has been lights out. In a round one series victory Anderson put up MVP type numbers (GAA 1.80 SV% .950). Pittsburgh has the fire power needed to break through and light up the score board, but I am not sure they have the poise to wait for the openings to do it. If they can wait and they get solid goal tending from game one starter Tomas Vokoun  (GAA 1.41 SV% .957) the Pens should be able to go up 1-0 in the series. On the flip side if the Senators are going to continue their run  they will need to keep Pittsburgh’s big guns off the score board. Ottawa will need to use Anderson as a crutch. The Senators will also need timely scoring and a solid special teams effort to foil the Penguins hopes of advancing. If the Senators stay disciplined, and can keep the unnecessary penalties to a minimum they should win game one, and maybe the series.

Inside the Numbers Ottawa Senators  Goal Leader: Kyle Turris 3 Points Leader: Daniel Alfredsson 6 +/-: Daniel Alfredsson +6 Goal Tending: Craig Anderson, 4-1 ,GAA 1.80, SV% .950 PP: 24% 6 goals PK” 84.21% Pittsburgh Penguins Goal Leader: Pascal Dupuis 5 Points Leader: Evgeni Malkin 11 +/-: Paul Martin +5 Goal Tending:  Tomas Vokoun, 2-0, GAA 1.41, SV% .957 Marc-Andre Fleury, 2-2, GAA 3.40, SV% .891 PP: 33.33% 7 goals PK: 90%

This series should come down to which team is able to play their game. If the Senators can sit back and close off the neutral zone, and keep Pittsburgh at bay they should be able to drag out a series win. However if the Penguins play Pens hockey and can skate and find space this series will go to the Penguins.

Prediction: I’m going to go out on a limb, and take the Senators in 7 games. After watching the Penguins have trouble with the Islanders; it seems to me that Ottawa should be able to wear down the battle tested Penguins.

Side Note: Something to think about. As if a playoff series needs more hype; the Senators have a bit of revenge to deal with. On February 13 Matt Cooke took out Senators star Erik Karlsson. The hit tore 70% of  Karlsson’s Achilles tendon . After missing 31 games due to the injury Karlsson showed little rust in round one putting up 6 points ( 1 G, 5 A)