Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Ottawa Senators
Regular Season: Senators 2-0-1 (Penguins 1-1-1)
What are they doing? What are the Ottawa Senators doing in the playoffs? What are they doing in the 2nd round? What are they doing in the Eastern Final? I think it’s safe to say that no one saw this “under dog” team coming.
All mics, cameras, eyeballs and score sheets, point to one player. Erik Karlsson the driving force behind this surprise-attack team. Karlsson is an anomaly, being the teams top scorer by quite the margin, while being positioned at defence. The guy gets it done on both ends, he can not be beat and will do whatever it takes to bring home the cup. For this same reasoning, Coach Boucher keeps Karlsson on the ice for often more than half the game. The man is a beast. Whereas many people debate Crosby or McDavid as the MVP, but at this point, Erik Karlsson must be included in the same breath. All doing-so with hairline fractures in his foot from all the shots he’s been blocking.
The Penguins on the other-hand are all offence with complete abandon to every other aspect of the game. It doesn’t seem like a great strategy, but whose to judge the reigning Stanley Cup Champions as they play in yet another Eastern Conference Final.
Suffice it to say, in the last 7 of 8 Penguin victories, they have been notoriously outshot. So the Penguins need to include goalie Marc-Andre Fleury when glamorizing their star-studded offence. Fleury who has long-time been the fan favourite of the Penguins, gave up his starting position this season, to Matt Murray who was injured in Round 1 after stretching in warm-ups.
If the Senators are going to look to continue their Rocky Balboa-esque tale. They are going to need to find a way to slow-down the Penguin offence. Karlsson can’t keep burning his energy helping out the offence, if he could solely focus on defence, imagine the possibilities he could accomplish against the Penguins stars. However, there is unquestionable slack that needs to be picked up by other offensive line-mates if the Sens want to continue their success. Karlssons dominance and energy is definitely above human, but still has it’s limits.
The Penguins, in order to win, obviously don’t need to change much. There are major flaws in their game, but if the hail-mary, shotgun formation gets the W’s, why should they stop? Considering the leagues equivalent to the Avengers are united in Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and x- factor Jake Guentzel as they all heat up. Each having scored more points than games they’ve played in each playoff series.
Sure they may give up an unsightly +35 shots per game, but Fleury has been handling his work load well and is trying to show the league why he still deserves the number 1 spot.
It is going to take a Disney script for the Ottawa Senators to walk past the Penguins (3 Erik Karlssons,) and make it into the finals. But, stranger things have happened.