For the teams that finished 1-2 in the Easterm Conference over the regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens are polar opposites. From the goaltending on out, they are as far from each other as you could get.
And as a result, the Ottawa Senators are going to have to play a lot different, now that it is official that the Penguins are indeed the next
opponent victim for the Pesky Sens.
Here is how they are different:
1. Experience – The core of the Penguins have all won the Stanley Cup – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kristopher Letang, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Brooks Orpik are all among the Pittsburgh players who have won the Cup in Pittsburgh. Add to that the Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow factors, and there isn’t a situation that the Penguins have not found themselves in at some point and the leadership group is beyond anything that the Habs could put forward. Only Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and Michael Ryder had Stanley Cup rings on the Canadiens. The Habs were young and prone to get caught up in the emotion.
2. Coaching – While Michel Therrien was excitable and prone to get wrapped up in the head games that Paul MacLean was playing, it is not likely that Dan Bylsma will get caught in those same mind games. Bylsma has been there before, and he is the classic stone-faced analytical coach that will keep focus on the task at hand.
3. Goaltending – While Carey Price might have more overall ability than Marc-Andre Fleury or Tomas Vokoun, the Canadiens rely more heavily on their netminder to keep them in games. The Penguins only need to get adequate goaltending, because they have the team to overcome the odd goalie mistake. Fleury had his stumbles in the first round and was capably replaced by Vokoun.
4. Defense – Monttreal’s blueline was quick, but not overly big. The only size really came from P.K. Subban and rookie Jarred Tinordi. Pittsburgh’s blue line has size (Douglas Murray, Brooks Orpik, Deryk Engelland) and skill (Letang, Paul Martin, Mark Eaton, Simon Despres) and is able to play any style of game that is needed.
5. Size Up The Middle – Montreal’s biggest weakness is Pittsburgh’s biggest strength. Crosby, Malkin, Brandon Sutter are an impressive trio at centre ice. They have the size and strength that Montreal could not ice. Ottawa’s biggest challenge in the series will be conatining the talent and siza that the Penguins have down the middle.
The Penguins have shown that they are not the unbeatable force that many foresaw heading into the playoffs. The upstart Islanders gave them fits, and Ottawa would be considered a better team all around, now that they are relatively healthy, than the Isles. The Penguins are beatable, and later on we will break down the series in depth. This is just to show that their second round opponents are a vastly different group that the one they dispatched last week.