Senators confident against Crosby and the Pens

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators are facing off in the
first round, as the #4 and #5 seeds respectively. Generally, that’s a
pretty close matchup of two teams right next to each other in the
standings and it’s tough to predict who will come out on top. With the
Penguins, however, they are the defending Stanley Cup champions and have
had a much more successful season than Senators, at least on paper.

Pens2.jpgThe
Senators, however, are confident they can slow down Sidney Crosby and
the Penguins. From
Chris Yzerman of the Canadian Press:

“We’ve had
success in the past in trying to contain (Crosby), a little
bit anyway,” Senators centre Mike Fisher said as Ottawa prepared to face
the defending Stanley Cup champions in the opening round for the third
time in four seasons. “We know them well. We know what it’s going to
take to beat them and it won’t be easy.”

“It really starts in the neutral zone with a strong focus to try
and
take away his space there,” [Chris] Phillips said. “Have someone close
and
trying to deter his teammates from wanting to give him the puck in the
neutral zone where he can create a lot of speed and carry that on into
the offensive zone.”

The article notes that in 17
regular season games against the Senators, Crosby has just two goals and
13 points and is a minus-8. He’s had much more success against Ottawa
in the playoffs.

The Senators will have to be defensive wizards
against he Penguins, who scored 32 more goals this season while allowing
one less that Ottawa. The Senators finished the season with a minus-13
goal differential, the worst of all the teams in the playoffs. Not
exactly the pedigree one thinks a team wants going up against the
firepower the Penguins can bring.

Yet the Senators are right: they
have a chance. We’ll get into this more when we announce our
predictions on Wednesday, but of all teams that could have faced the
Penguins the Senators might have the best chance to upset the defending
champs.

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    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

    Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

    (Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

    Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

    You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

    It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

    Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

    Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

    Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

    Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
    AP
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    If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

    You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

    The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

    For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

    (Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

    The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

    Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

    Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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    It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

    The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

    The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

    One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.