We have a saying here at PenguinPoop that “We have more hockey knowledge in our body than you have in your entire pinky“, that just being a little humor and all, the “body” of people writing here at PenguinPoop have probably been to more Penguin games in their lifetime than any other collection of Pittsburgh Penguin writers on the internet. With that I give you some of our eight contributors predictions of how the Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators playoff series will end up, starting with STH35 who’s been a Penguins season ticket holder for 36 years.
STH35: Predicting the outcome of the Senator-Penguin first round match-up is no easy task. Ottawa has a decent team, the Penguins have a better one. I wanted to say that the winner of the series would depend on what Penguin team shows up, but Ottawa has been more of a mystery than Pittsburgh. They were 8-11 since the Olympic break. The stretches went like this — 1-8 in the first nine, 7-1 in the next eight, and finished by losing their last two. Not much consistency there. Eight of their last eleven losses came against non-playoff teams, including twice to Toronto. The Penguins were 11-9 after the Olympics. They were also streaky through that stretch — 4-0, then 2-6, and finishing 5-3. It wasn’t really the wins and losses that were inconsistent that were bothersome. It was the way they played — long stretches of poor play every game. Undisciplined penalties took their team out of their game and giveaways galore — all things that can’t be done during the playoffs. I think the Penguins are good enough to understand the weak points in their game, and will do something about it. Ottawa will not go down easy, as they do have some battlers in their lineup. Penguins in six – another series won on the road.
Phil Krundle: I’ve said it a few times this season the the Senators are great looking team, on paper that is. The offensive skill they possess makes them one of the top offensive teams in the NHL and this is what makes this match up scary. The Pens have had two different teams the entire season, one team that shows up and plays incredible hard hustling hockey and another team that lolligags around the ice. I truly believe that we will not see the Penguin lolligagger team on the ice in the playoffs. The Senators leader Daniel Alfredsson is one of the best divers in the NHL, but with the Penguins penalty kill playing the way they are, that should negate his Greg Louganis ancestry. Which brings up the Penguins powerplay. I have never been a person to yell shoot the puck at a Penguin game and I never will be. So I’m saying it now. SHOOT THE PUCK. Studies done by people high up in the NHL have determined that shooting the puck is the best way to score goals. This is odd to say with such a young team, but the Penguins have the upper hand in playoff experience. Throw in the the Senators poor defensive play and them not having a goaltender that has ever played a game in the NHL playoffs the Pens win a not very hard fought series in 5 games.
Southside Shultzie: There has been a phenomena for years where ex Penguins players score at will against us. For that to hold true in the Pens opening playoff series vs Ottawa it will be up to Jarko Ruutu. The torn ACL suffered by Alex Kovalev will prevent him from scoring at all this playoff season but don’t count out the Senators! There is an old saying about an injured dog being the most vicious! Jason Spezza has been a notorious pain in the arse for the Penguins as is Daniel Alfredsson. That said, I’m calling the Pens in a hard fought 7 game series! I’m also calling that Ottawa’s 3rd jersey is among the worst in the NHL. “SENS”? If they wear that sweater I am calling for a shutout 4-0 by the Pens!
Jean Pronovost: The Pens enter the 2009/2010 playoffs matched up against the Ottawa Senators for the third time in four years with each team having won one of the previous two meetings. The Pens split their season series against Ottawa this year 2 – 2 with each team winning once and losing once at home. The only game that I could find any kind of aberration in was the Penguins 8 – 2 victory at Mellon Arena on December 23, a game that featured the return of goalie Pascal Leclaire after an extended absence due to a knee injury followed up by being hit in the face with a puck while sitting on the bench. His extended absence was noticed quickly as the Pens put 5 pucks past him in succession in the second period before he was yanked for Brian Elliot, the current Senators goalie. Jason Spezza also missed that game for Ottawa. Neither Ottawa nor Pittsburgh is on any kind of a roll entering the playoffs with Ottawa having won only 8 of their previous 19 games and Pittsburgh having won 10 of their previous 19 not counting the season finale against the Islanders. Both teams seem to be having problems scoring right now as they both have only scored over 3 goals in a game 6 times in those final 19 contests. Both teams have been average defensively and the goaltending has also been shaky at times. What this series is going to come down, I believe, is the goaltending, and while Brian Elliot has looked good at times, he just doesn’t have the playoff resume that Marc-Andre Fluery has. Ottawa also doesn’t seem to have the scoring depth that Pittsburgh does (When they are actually scoring). After Spezza and Alfredsson, Ottawa doesn’t seem to have many guys that can put the puck in the net with the consistency of Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Staal, and Gonchar. Ottawa has only four 20 goal scorers, but none over 25. The guys they acquired in the Dany Heatley trade, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo just did not pan out for them offensively with Michalek scoring 34 points and Cheechoo, before he was shipped off to the minors for salary cap reasons only scoring 14. And now Ottawa will take another hit as their fourth leading scorer, Alexei Kovalev will miss the playoffs entirely with a torn ACL. The Pens, on the other hand, seem to be in pretty good shape health wise with the return of both Malkin and Gonchar to the line up. My prediction – Pens in 5
Dr. Hook: For some reason there seem to be more skeptics around than last season when folks were asking have they run out of gas since loosing in the Finals to the Red Wings… our Flightless birdies have played a ton of games but I see things looking a little on the bright side once again.We are healthy down the middle – the defense appears ready – even Goligoski has wiped the sand from his eyes and Leopold just may be the best player picked up at the trade deadline. Ottawa is as tough of a foe as Montreal, Philadelphia, and Boston as a first round opponent. Could we be had? Of course we can and anyone who has been around long enough can attest to that. However… I see the series going 5 to 6 games with the Penguins then going-on to the second round.The reason is this: Malkin has missed about 20% of the season and Gonchar more than that. The amount of games played in the last two years is amazing plus the Pens had their fair share playing key roles in the Olympics. Fleury while there is another factor. While some people like to rate him as an under performer, his demeanor makes him much like Tommy Barrasso in that he shrugs off the pressure and the fact that he doesn’t let facing a lot of quality chances bother him too much. Write this down – no goalie, not even Broduer has won as many playoff games as Fleury during the past two-years. Fleury has turned into a big game big save player. Add to that the down the middle strength with Staal growing into a Selke candidate favorite. The PP comes alive the PK remains a key factor and the Pens go to work knowing what it takes to get the end result. Jump up and down all you want, Chicago and Washington fans, but the Penguin train is about to begin roll… I’m getting FIRED UP… I wish we were playing tonight… Beware the Penguin.
Reg Dunlop: The Penguins have done anything but convince me that they are able to pick up the level of play for the playoffs. In fact, they would have to pick up their level to allow them to beat Robert Morris in a 7 games series. So, they will have to pick their level of play up several notches to have any success in the playoffs. With that said, I think the Pens can and will come together in these playoffs. I think it will start against the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night. I am far from convinced it will be an easy series. Even with the loss of Alexei Kovalev, I think the Sens will give our boys a tough series. I would feel better had the Penguins created some momentum heading in to the playoffs, but I think they can do it. I like Pittsburgh in Six.
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