Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You can have March Madness...

it's playoff hockey time.

Pens Goals For: 3.04 (5th) Sens Goals Against: 2.84 (18th)
Sens Goals For: 2.68 (15th) Pens Goals Against 2.87 (20th)

Advantage Pittsburgh. 5 on 5, it's hard to match Pittsburgh line for line. If you contain Crosby, the following shift you have to contain Malkin. The following shift, you have to contain Stahl. And if by some miracle you manage all that, you've got Gonchar and Goligoski and Letang jumping into the play. Ottawa shouldn't be able to keep up.

Pens Power Play: 17.2% (20th) Sens Penalty Kill: 84.3 (7th)
Sens Power Play: 16.9% (21st) Pens Penalty Kill: 84.1 (9th)

Advantage Neither. The statistics indicate that special teams play shouldn't be much of a factor, with both teams mounting an anemic power play and both having quite good penalty killing units (the Pittsburgh tandem of Stahl and Dupuis being particularly good). I don't believe it. Pittsburgh's power play will be quarterbacked by an entity I call "Playoff Gonchar", a defenseman of enormous talent who appears for only 10 or so games in the regular season. (The rest of the time, his position is filled by "Soft, Pink Gonchar) I think our power play is going to score at will, for the first few games. Ottawa will adjust.

Fleury Save % 90.5 Elliot Save % 90.9

Advantage: Ottawa (marginally). Neither one of these teams should feel good about their goal-tending. A save percentage lower than .91 is average. This should be of particular concern to Pens fans given Fleury's 1) recent meltdown, and 2) propensity for giving up astonishingly soft goals in a couple of the series last year. Fleury's going to win a Vezina someday. But this year, he's making me nervous.

People keep worrying about New Jersey, or Washington.

There are no other teams in the league, except Ottawa. There are no other games except for the one tonight. If the Pens forget that...

it's going to be a long summer with no hockey.