Friday, April 30, 2010

Playoffs, Round 2

I'd like to start by congratulating the Washington Capitals on a terrific Regular season.  They won the President's Trophy, which goes to the team with the most regular season victories.  Good job guys, and have a terrific summer of golf.  I'd also like to congratulate Alex Ovechkin on a terrific regular season despite finishing behind Sidney Crosby in he scoring race.  Nice work, Alexi.  Have a nice flight.

(all stats from the regular season, courtesy of ESPN)

Pens GFA: 3.04 (5th in the league)  Habs GAA: 2.66 (11th)
Habs GFA: 2.56 (25th)  Pens GAA:  2.87 (20th)

Advantage Pens.  We're should pepper these guys... look for 35+ shots on goal per game.  Washington averaged 40+ per game against Montreal in the 1st round, and only the performance of their goalie saved them.  Montreal has some talent; players like Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta are always a threat.  And every fan in the league knows the names Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik.  But after 7 games in which Montreal blocked more than a hundred shots, I don't think these aging defensemen can pull it off for another series.

Pens PP: 17.2% (20th)  Habs PK: 83% (12th)
Habs PP: 21.8% (2nd)   Pens PK: 84.1% (9th)

Advantage Habs.  This is a lethal powerplay.  The Pens must find a way to beat up Montreal's aging talent without taking penalties.   Players like Cooke and Kunitz need to dial it back, at least a little.  And Evgeni Malkin, prone to taking stupid penalties all season, needs to concentrate on scoring rather than repaying every slash and hook.  I TOLD you the Pens PP was better than their regular season stats before the last series, and I expect it to do well this series as well.  But there's no question that Montreal's power play has the potential to win the series for them if we don't stay out of the penalty box.

Fleury's save%: 90.5% (31st) Halak save%: 92.4% (4th)

Advantage Habs.  I knew Halak had been phenomenally good against the Caps, but I hadn't realized how good he'd been in the regular season.  Carey Price doesn't scare me at all, and if Montreal has to pull Halak again (game 3 of the Caps series) we'll crush Price, but Halak stole 4 games from the Caps, and if he plays like that again, the Pens are in very deep trouble.

Of course if Fleury plays like we know he can play, we'll win this series in 4 games.  But if Fleury gives up a couple of his playoff trademark soft goals...

well, the prospect scares me.

I think this series is going to go 7 games.  I hope I'm wrong.  NEVER let a team with a hot goalie take you to game 7.