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.
Predators survive Blues’ big late push to win Game 1
The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”
You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.
Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.
Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.
Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.
For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).
It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)
WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks
The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.
Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.
One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.
It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?
Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.
Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now
In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.
You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.
No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.
Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.
P.K. Subban is unstoppable tonight. 1 goal, 2 primary assists, a drawn call to create a 5-on-3. Holy hell.