7:30 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
What is nice about the second round is that the Penguins don't have to sit around and wait too much and are able to stay in the swing of the playoff season. I am not really sure how much that means in the grand scheme of things but I know hockey players are largely creatures of habit and they like this to be done the same way. That would include not sitting around too much waiting to see who you are going to play. The Senators have been sitting around for some time now having played their last game on May 9. That isn't too big of a gap but just something to throw out there.
This series should be an...interesting...one. I am not really sure how I feel about it as the first two rounds of the playoffs have matched the Penguins up against teams that I really don't have any ill will against either the Islanders or the Senators. It sucks because playoff hockey is about getting as invested as possible and loathing the opposition throughout the series but I just can't get all that worked up about either team like I can teams like the Rangers or Flyers. This can change in an instant so that isn't to say that something in the game tonight couldn't trigger that but who knows. Just a general meh feeling I have about Ottawa.
This season the Penguins handled Ottawa fairly well but as we know the regular season is largely meaningless at this point. While Ottawa is not nearly as fast as the Islanders are they have something that they didn't, a competent goaltender. Craig Anderson missed some significant time in the regular season with an injury but is back and was one of the best in the league at keeping the puck out of the back of the net.
Ottawa has struggled for much of the year at scoring goals. They really got after Montreal and put a ton of pucks in the back of the net but during the regular season they only scored 2.33 goals per game which was good for 27th in the league. Despite the lack of goal scoring they really did a nice job of keeping the puck out of their own net allowing only 2.08 per game which was second in the league. In three games against Ottawa in the regular season the Penguins scored nine goals.
The main media storyline is most certainly going to be the Erik Karlsson and Matt Cooke angle but if we are going to look at actual hockey it will be fun to watch the Penguins power play against Ottawa's penalty kill. Ottawa led the league in the regular season on the PK killing 88% of chances against them while the Penguins come in with the second best regular season power play (24.7%) while they are 7-of-21 with the extra man in the post season. If the 5-on-5 play is going to be tight then the special teams are going to need to come through for a Penguins win.
Tomas Vokoun is going to be in net. I would have went with Marc-Andre Fleury but like I have said a billion times I see why the Penguins are going with Vokoun. You almost have to stick with the hot hand and the actual good thing is that you have an option even if Vokoun falls flat on his face. All I really care about is the Penguins winning and if that is with Vokoun in net then who cares.
Pittsburgh (4-2 in playoffs) (via Penguins website)
Pascal Dupuis - Sidney Crosby - Jarome Iginla
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Tyler Kennedy
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Kris Letang - Matt Niskanen
Deryk Engelland - Douglas Murray
Ottawa (4-1 in playoffs) (via Daily Faceoff)
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Guillaume Latendresse - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Cory Conacher - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Erik Condra
Erik Karlsson - Marc Methot
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
Eric Gryba - Jared Cowen
Season Series (Pittsburgh won 3-0-0)
April 22, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 1
February 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Ottawa 2 January 27, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Ottawa 1 (SO) The Stats: