NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 – OTTAWA vs PITTSBURGH
SERIES BEGINS: TUESDAY 14th MAY 2013
PUCK DROP: 7:30PM ET (12:30AM GMT)
HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? Ottawa shocked many by completely overwhelming the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games in the first round. They average 4 goals per game whilst only allowing 1.80 goals against. They also saw a 24% success rate on the powerplay, so their offensive skills are not to be underestimated. That said, they were outshot by around 6 shots per game, and as such were not playing a great possession game – something that may hold them back against the powerhouse Penguins. Then again, I said the same thing may hold them back against Montreal, and look what happened.
The team is getting good all around production, most notably from star defender Erik Karlsson and veteran forward and captain Daniel Alfredsson who lead the team with 6 points each, and who both also lead the team with a +5 rating.
Pittsburgh had a tougher time than most expected against the NY Islanders, although it was noted by many that the Long Island team were better than was commonly thought. The Penguins were taken to six games before they finally won, and one of the primary reasons for their struggles was their goaltending. As I noted in their preview for the previous round, Fleury has not proven to be a good goalie for the team, and once again faltered. Luckily they have the experienced Tomas Vokoun to pick up the slack, and he was admirable in his games against New York. The team averaged 4.17 goals per game and 2.83 goals against, so are having more offensive success than Ottawa but are also not as good defensively. Their powerplay is clicking at a great 33.3% success rate, and they also have a 90% PK success rate, so are certainly a dominant special teams squad. The Senators will have to be disciplined.
Evgeni Malkin is once again thriving in playoff action, racking up 11 points in just 6 games, whilst Sidney Crosby is also dominating with 9 points in 5 games. Veteran superstar and deadline pickup Jarome Iginla is also living up to expectations with 9 points in 6 games. Paul Martin is surprising with his offensive production, and also leads the team with a +5 rating.
PREDICTION: The Senators won’t give Pittsburgh an easy time in this one, though I’ll stop short of saying they’re all wrong for the Pens. As long as Vokoun can hold up his end of the bargain, the Penguins’ sheer offensive power should overwhelm Ottawa’s surprising and odd collection of players. I’ll go with the Penguins in 5 games.