All right so there’s probably not going to be any Sidney Crosby and there definitely won’t be Evgeni Malkin, but the Penguins have Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury still and they did nearly win the Atlantic Division. They’ll be matched up against the phenomenal Steve Stamkos, diminutive star Martin St. Louis, and the venerable Vincent Lecavalier in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With Fleury matching up against Dwayne Roloson for Tampa Bay and the Lightning bringing the bulk of the star power in this series, we’re left wondering just who you’ve got in this series. Here’s how we’re looking at things.
The Penguins have been impressive and resilient this season, but I just don’t know if they can grind out four wins against the Lightning. Only the Vancouver Canucks scored more power play goals than the Lightning in 2010-11 while Pittsburgh is all the way in 19th place. My guess is that the Bolts will get some crucial “easy” goals on the man advantage and will use their superior scoring depth against the star-starved Penguins.
Is Marc-Andre Fleury so superior to Dwayne Roloson that Pittsburgh can overcome those disparities? I’ll guess that the answer is “No.”
It’s the Lightning in 6, while Martin St. Louis stands up and asks, “So why exactly don’t I get Hart Trophy attention? Are voters Heightists or something?”
In one corner we have a team that has been through the battles—on the other, we have a team that has two players who have won a cup and a line-up full of youngsters. I’m a big believer in the idea that a team has to learn how to play in the playoffs and this looks like it could be a learning experience for a lot of the guys in Tampa Bay. The Penguins went to the Cup Finals two seasons in a row until last season—when a weak defensive corps couldn’t hang when the games got tougher in the playoffs. Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek should fix that; the Pens will be able to sneak by on the strength of their defensive game this time.
The Lightning will learn lessons for next year, but Penguins in 5.
Tampa has the dangerous offense and the streaky goalie. Pittsburgh has the stingy, rugged defense and the playoff-tested lights out goalie. I like a lot of what Tampa Bay has but I don’t know that they can hang with the Penguins in what should be a knockdown, drag-out series. Penguins in 7.
What say you faithful PHT readers? Think we’re playing favorites with the Pens or downplaying the Lightning? Vote in our poll and let us know.