There are many questions the Penguins need to answer going into round two against the Ottawa Senators. The biggest question is who’s going to be the goaltender that stands up in between the pipes. Will it be the playoff experienced Marc-Andre Fleury or the hot guy right now Tomas Vokoun?
We’ve put together an incredible group of writers to predict how the series will pan out and at the same time throw a little insight into what the Penguins will have to do to win. Six of the writers have followed the Penguins since the 1970’s, two of them have been season ticket holders since then. The writers here at PenguinPoop have been to more Penguins games than any other group of writers on the internet.
Horse – Season ticket holder since the 1970’s also a longtime PenguinPoop writer & radio host.
Hopefully the Penguins learned from all the mistakes they made in their series against the NY Islanders. Face it —- they got past the Islanders even though they were far from their best. They will have to be much more consistent to advance to the Conference finals. It’s hard to gauge just how good the Senators are, since they advanced by beating a decimated Montreal Canadians team. We know the Senators will try to play a low-scoring defensive series behind their great goaltender, Craig Anderson. I believe the Penguins should play a tight defensive game as well. They have the talent to win the series with limited goal-scoring opportunities.
Fleury should start Game One because Vokoun is a better contingency plan. Fleury will rebound from his shaky performance against the Islanders — remember he did have a shutout in Game One. The Penguins will win in six games simply because they always clinch on the road.
Phil Krundle – Head cheese at PenguinPoop – Pens fan since 1976.
There is one thing that concerns me. The Senators just got finished laying a whooping on Penguins coach Dan Bylsma’s mentor. Other than that I’m expecting the Penguins to win games they get the lead early by scores like 6-1 and lose games they get behind by scores like 2-1.
The Penguins need to start Tomas Vokoun the first game Tuesday night. If Fleury comes in and flops it would crush his psyche. Think about it. Vokoun is playing great, and the team is confident in front of him. Two thing could happen. You ride Vokoun to the Stanley Cup. I can live with that. Or… Vokoun has a bad day at the office and Fleury comes in and saves the day and goes back to being the #1 goaltender he is. There may be a back to back game Friday and Saturday that Fleury would be needed to get back into the groove anyway.
This series will show the true value of adding Douglas Murray to the roster. Clearing sight lines for the goaltender will be of utmost importance with the defensive fire power of the Sens.
The bad blood will end fast after a few Pittsburgh Penguins powerplays.
I going out on a limb here and saying the Sens are going to drag this to a game seven. The Pens will advance.
Southside Shultzie – Long time PenguinPoop writer & Pens fan. Born in Cleveland but hey, so was Stan Savaran.
This series has the potential of being monumentally ugly! Considering the axe that the Sens have to grind regarding the Matt Cooke incident/accident, look for them to come out swinging! After witnessing the Islanders resurrection from the dead once Okposo jumped Matt Niskanen, the Sens might just take a whack at knocking the Pens around. Unlike the Isladers, Ottawa can afford to play a dirty game after posting crazy 88% PK during the regular season.
Look for Chris Neil to hit anything but the net. As I mentioned before the start of the last series, regardless of what brand of hockey is thrown at them, the Pens have the depth and just outmatch Ottawa. I like the Pens in 6 and record breaking PIM’s.
Like that girl I dated from Otter Lake….this one has a chance of getting ugly as soon as the lights come on!
Doug MacRay – Penguins fan, started with Mario, PenguinPoop video guy.
Ottawa comes into this series on fire, winning their last 3 games and scoring 15 goals while disposing on Montreal. However, Montreal was an overrated team that never should have been the number two seed. If it wasn’t for their goaltending, Ottawa would be with the Flyers right now, on the golf course.
There might be some bad blood between the teams, but in order for the Penguins to win they will need to dictate their pace and play their game. Hopefully, the Penguins are feeling better about themselves and can get back to playing the way they like to, now that they have made it into the second round. I think the Penguins have less stress on them this round and will play better. They are the better team, but Ottawa has a hotter goaltender.
I think the Penguins break him early and they win in 5.
Champ Kind – Season ticket holder since the 70’s and PenguinPoop Radio Host.
After watching the Pens get outplayed in almost every facet of the game for most of the first round by the faster, grittier New York Islanders, it’s tough to forecast how this team will perform in round 2. I do know this… it will be up to Penguins to decide whether or not they want to win this series.
I believe the Pens will reflect back and realize just how fortunate they were to advance beyond round 1 after two years of failing to do so. I believe they will find their game and when they do the Senators will not be able to handle the fire power. The Senators made quick work of a beat up Montreal squad with a weak goaltender. Even the return of Jason Spezza (which seems imminent) will not be enough to spark an upset.
I am also going to suggest that Mark Andre Fleury will bounce back and out perform Craig Anderson in this series. Pens in 5.
Joey Wales – PenguinPoop writer & long time Penguins fan – accidentally lived in D.C. for a while – he’s back.
The Penguins seem to run into the Senators a lot in the playoffs of late. Back in ’07 the Sens were the older girl that our boys awkwardly groped around in the backseat with before they really knew what we were doing. Then in ’08 the Pens turned the tables and haven’t looked back since, so I have a soft spot for playoff series against the Sens because, to me, they’re a huge part of the Crosby-era Penguins coming-of-age story.
How will this next chapter be written? In a lot of black-and-blue ink. If the Islanders were a speedy scalpel, the Senators are an intimidating hammer. They’re a hammer with a hot goalie, the confidence of a team who just pummeled and eliminated the #2-seeded Habs, and a bad attitude. So now, do the Pens try to use their big forwards to play a highly physical game right back, or do they focus on speediness to get the Sens’ gigantor defensemen all turned around and off their game? The answer is both and see what works best. The beauty of this Penguins team is that they are built to do whatever needs to be done to win the game, the series, the Cup.
I don’t think the Matt Cooke sideshow will come into play on the ice. I’m sure it will come up in the stands, though. At least until Sid draws a penalty, and then Sens fans will start making signs with diving boards or pacifiers or whatever other played-out image they can think of.
This is going to be a rough one. Pens in 6, with at least one multiple-game suspension. From which side, I’m not sure.
Disco Stu – Followed the Penguins since 1971. Frequent PenguinPoop writer & radio host.
After struggling to take out the Islanders in six games in Round 1 of the playoffs, the Penguins enter, what to some of you new fans is now unfamiliar territory, Round 2. It is a place they have not been since bowing out to Montreal in 2010 and haven’t won since winning it all in 2009. Round 2’s opponent is the Ottawa Senators who got here as a seventh seed after knocking off the second seeded Montreal Canadians in five games in the opening round. This will be the fourth time the Penguins have played the Senators in the playoffs, but the first time since opening round in 2010. The Penguins hold a 2-1 lead over Ottawa having defeated them the last two times they’ve met in the post season. Only six players remain from that Senators team and most likely only five that will play as Jason Spezza is unlikely to have recovered from back surgery enough to actually play in a game even though he is now back practicing with the team.
The Penguins, on the other hand, return 13 players from the last time these two team met in the post season. The Penguins went 3-0 against Ottawa during the regular season outscoring them 8-4 in the three games. None of the games were blowouts with the Penguins winning twice by two goals and once in a shootout. The win in Ottawa on January 27th was Jason Spezza’s last game before his back surgery, and I’m sure everyone by now has heard of the Matt Cooke/Erik Karlsson incident from the February 13th game. If you haven’t yet, I’m sure you will 500 times before this series even begins.
This will be a completely different series for the Penguins than the one they just completed with the Islanders. Whereas New York was small and quick, Ottawa is lumbering and large. It’s going to be a much more physical series because Ottawa has some guys that can really lay the wood in Matt Kassian, Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, and Jared Cowan. Depth wise, and on paper, it is another series that the Penguins should win with ease. Missing Jason Spezza and playing with injured Milan Michaelek and Patrick Wiercioch, Ottawa just doesn’t seem to have the scoring depth that the Penguins do although they do still have Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson and rookie sensation Jakob Silfverberg, and former Penguins Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson can still bring it from the point.
What the Penguins need to do in order to win this series is solve Senators goalie, Craig Anderson early. The former journeyman goaltender has found a good home in Ottawa, and has played the best hockey of his career since settling there. He finished the season with an amazing 1.69 GAA which fell to 1.80 against Montreal in the first round. The Pens need to put pucks past him early and often in the first two games to shake his confidence. Otherwise, I think most of the games are headed for late game heroics by one team or the other and possibly a few overtime games.
It is also going to come down to special teams. Ottawa’s power play and penalty kill is average at best whereas the Penguins are near the top of the league in Power Play conversion and only gave up two power play goals in six games in the first round against New York. This is where the Penguins have to continue to shine because if they can play just even up with Ottawa at even strength, then the series should tilt greatly in their favor on special teams.
I’m calling for the Penguins to win this series in 6. I’m also going to say that after the way he kept the Penguins alive in Game 6 against New York long enough for them to win it in overtime that you have to start Tomas Vokoun in Game 1 and ride him until the wheels come off. At that point, I think Fleury will have gotten his head together enough to go back to being the Flower from our Stanley Cup winning season.
Art Vandelay – Long time Penguins fan, season ticket guy & producer of the PenguinPoop Radio show.
I am predicting Pens in 6, but it will be a tough series for our Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins will not have to contend with an opponent with as much team speed as the New York Islanders.
The Penguins should be able to establish their forecheck easier this series than the past one because of Ottawa’s lack of team speed. A few players, such as: Craig Anderson, Kyle Turris, Sergei Gonchar, Erik Karlsson, and the possibility of Jason Spezza returning in this series make Ottawa no pushover. Oh, and don’t forget that knucklehead Neil, because I am sure he will be running around hitting the Black and Gold this series.
Pens in 6 “Cream rises to the top”.
Coach Bombay – Long time PenguinPoop writer & Social Media Guru – Season Ticket Holder who started with Mario.
Here comes crazy…
The results of Melnyk’s forensic scientist’s report on whether Matt Cooke intentionally hurt Karlson have not been revealed, but I can say one thing…don’t write off the Senators. Remember how we all thought the Isles would be pesky, but a pretty easy first round? Um, yeah.
This Sens team has spent the season proving that they are the real deal. Not to mention that they just knocked out a very good Habs team in 5 games with the help of solid goaltending from Craig Anderson.
Bylsma is finally somewhat learning how to coach in the playoffs. He’s making adjustments in between games based on performance and needs. Now, he just needs to bring that to his in-game style and we might not see so many breakdowns.
This series will depend entirely on which team decides to show up. Right now, I could flip a coin. Is it the dominating game 1 and 5 team? Or is it the one with offensive and defensive breakdowns? Will Fleury stand on his head like he usually does after being benched or is the calming effect of Vokoun what the team needs? Which of the two Malkins will show up: Superstar or off in orbit?
Is this team hungry enough for every single guy to leave 110% on the ice every single game? This is the time to show the grit, chemistry, heart, and work ethic that defines Pens hockey. I’m hoping that round one was a wake-up call, but I don’t expect the Sens to make it an easy round. Pens in 7…though I’d love for them to prove me wrong and come out pissed as hell over the last round and do it in 5. 😉