With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.
1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 7) Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head in 2013: Penguins won all three match-ups this season.
A stat: The Penguins have three players in the top three (including ties) in playoff points, which Sens goalie Craig Anderson posted a .950 save percentage in round one.
*** ALL STATS REGULAR SEASON ***
Goal differentials: Pittsburgh +46, Ottawa +12
Shots-per-game: Pittsburgh: 30 (11th), Ottawa: 33.1 (1st)
Shots-against-per-game: Pittsburgh: 29.2 (16th), Ottawa: 31.3 (23rd)
PIT: Tomas Vokoun: .919 save percentage, 2.45 goals-against average
OTT: Craig Anderson: .941 save percentage, 1.69 goals-against
PIT: Sidney Crosby, 56 points in 36 games
OTT: Kyle Turris, 29 points in 48 games
Reason to watch: I feel like Pittsburgh so rarely has their entire team healthy, that we don’t really know what to expect from them, but we should find out in this series, as they’ve finally got all hands on deck. That offensive prowess versus the Craig Anderson’s amazing goaltending this year should be exciting. Speaking of health, the Sens finally have most of their team back too.
Lately: Pitt beat the Isles in six, Ottawa beat the Canadiens in five
PIT: 24.7% (2nd)
OTT: 15.9% (20th)
PIT: 79.6% (25th)
OTT: 88% (1st)
Special teams evaluation: League’s 2nd best PP (plus addition of Iginla) versus league’s best PK. FUN.
Injuries: Jason Spezza (back, but he’s been skating, so who knows), and Patrick Weircoch (lower body)
First game: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: Clash between two teams that seem to be on the rise, should be some run-and-gun hockey, I’m excited for this one.
I actually think Ottawa’s tracking in the right direction with the return of Karlsson and Anderson during round one, but they’re running into a fully healthy Penguins team that’s just stocked full of too many weapons. As Scott Lewis said today on the podcast you can almost feel the Pens being like “fine, they’ll score some goals, we’ll just go get more.” It’s tough to imagine Ottawa being able to hang when their leading scorer would’ve finished seventh on the pens in scoring (behind Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis, Letang, Neal and Malkin), and their best player is a defenseman who thinks offense-first.
Prediction: Penguins in six.
Your NHL.com preview: