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Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Penguins’

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Bonanza

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

5281948Oh hey there, playoff hockey. Welcome back. Please, come in. Can I take your coat? Would you like a beer or are you more of a wine fan? Excellent, now please stay forever.

That’s right, we get playoff hockey back and I’m ready to actually do some writing for you loyal readers along with the binge drinking that comes with it. But as usual, work and video games got in the way of doing detailed breakdowns so I’m cramming everything into one post. I have avoided any preview material on the internet, so no one can alter my thoughts.

This is the part where I’m supposed to insert something funny before we get going, but I got nothing. I’m tired and the games are on, so let’s get this over with.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The fun and loveable Blue Jackets have a chance because Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the Pittsburgh net during the playoffs and damn it, it will make for an entertaining series at the very least. But too much Sidney Crosby and not enough support for Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky means the Pens move on. Don’t worry, their fans will still find plenty to complain about. Penguins in six.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have bounced back and forth on this series several times. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Steve Mason feels like it should be enough for me pick the Rangers alone, but I can’t help myself. Claude Giroux has been nuts after the team got off to a terrible start and he carries it over to the playoffs. Flyers in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
If any team in the East might give the Bruins a scare in the opening round, Detroit is the one that could do just that. This is great for the game because it throws the Red Wings into a series with someone that they could develop an intense rivalry with. It should be deja vu for the Bruins as far as round one goes this year, but the result will be the same. Boston is too good. Bruins in seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Everyone is sleeping on this series but I think it will be an entertaining slugfest featuring the game’s best goal scorer and Canada’s only hope. Early advantage goes to Montreal as they boast one of the best goalies in the world while the Bolts’ MVP (Ben Bishop) is out for at least game one. That’s enough for me to take the Habs. Montreal in six.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Everyone in hockey has been waiting for the Avs to come crashing back to Earth based on their unsustainable fancy stats numbers and a goalie playing out of his mind. They’ll play former division foe Minnesota who would be primed for an upset if there wasn’t a giant question mark in the net. Avalanche in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Division, we have missed thee. This series won’t be a throwback to the chaos that ensued during the Black and Blue Division’s heyday, but it’s going to be a war. St. Louis had the President’s Trophy in their sights before crapping the bed late in the year, giving us the matchup we all wanted one round early. St. Louis has been bad in every aspect of the game as of late and they’re going to need to get up for the Hawks before it’s too late. Chicago is too deep and the Blues have too many questions in net and on offense. Blackhawks in six.
Ed. Note: It was REALLY difficult to not rip on the Blues during that. Don’t worry, I’ll do plenty of that on Twitter.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Fire wagon hockey will be present in every single game of this series as both teams love to get up and down the ice. Dallas has been a blast to watch and they have the edge in net with Kari Lehtonen over, well, whoever the hell the Ducks decide to play in net. Both teams have a superstar duo and plenty of secondary scoring. But the Ducks have Cam Fowler. That’s enough for me to make my pick. Stars in six. #CamSucks

Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
My preview for this series is that I drink a lot and wind up in the fetal position because Antti Niemi can’t keep the puck out of the net. Yeah, I’m not going into much detail. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic and I don’t wanna talk about it and JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Shit. Kings in six.

That’s it. If you want something more in-depth, I’m sure you can find about 5,283 articles on each series. Want more of an in-depth answer from me on the series in the West? Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to answer. Also, follow along for the retweets, especially if you don’t like the Blues.

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Pittsburgh Penguins 2013-14 Season Preview

In Hockey on September 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

2013 Recap
The Penguins rolled through the regular season thanks to a high-powered offense led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. After easily winning the Atlantic, the Penguins ran into a snag against the Islanders in the first round when Marc-Andre Fleury forgot that his job was to stop pucks from going in. Fleury was benched starting in game five, and the team rallied behind Tomas Vokoun to dispatch the Isles and Senators, winning six of seven games.

But all thoughts of a Cup win came to a screeching halt thanks to a sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins, in which the team scored only twice in four games. The Penguins were flustered by a physical Bruins squad, leading to a disappointing end to a stellar season.

Led by Sidney Crosby, the Penguins should be on the short list of teams that could win the Stanley Cup.

Led by Sidney Crosby, the Penguins should be on the short list of teams that could win the Stanley Cup.

Forwards
Not a whole lot of change at forward for Pittsburgh, and that spells trouble for opposing goaltenders. Crosby, Malkin, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz and the rest of the Pittsburgh attack is bound to put up video game style numbers, especially on the power play. Beau Bennett has been touted as a guy that could see time on one of the top-two lines, and could have a breakout year playing with one of the two best centers in the world.

The bottom six, led by Brandon Sutter, won’t be counted on for much offense, but it’s an energetic group that is capable of scoring the occasional goal.

This isn’t an area of concern for the Penguins. Carry on.

Defense
After experiencing some breakdowns in the playoffs, Rob Scuderi was brought back to join Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, etc. and make this team a better unit in their own zone. Letang was awesome in the regular season, but was dreadful at times in his own zone in the playoffs. I expect the unit to get better with the addition of Scuderi.

Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Depres will all see time as the 5-6 defenseman. The team is also stacked with prospects Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, etc. in the system. Not a bad problem to have.

Goaltending
You wanna talk about a fall from grace? Hi, Marc-Andre Fleury! After I dubbed him the best clutch goalie in one of my meaningless past posts, Fleury has melted down in the last two playoffs against the Flyers and Islanders. He hasn’t been under the microscope much in his career, but he will be this year. Tomas Vokoun was good when he stepped in for Fleury last year, but he will miss time with yet another blood clot (although apparently it’s not as bad as we were all led to believe). Until he gets back, Fleury is going to be the guy in net.

The Hat Trick

1. Now What Did We Learn?
This is a great team with excellent veteran leadership. But what did they take away from the beating they got at the hands of the Bruins in last year’s playoffs? It won’t take long for us to find out.

2. Wilting Flower
Fleury has no safety net behind him until Vokoun gets healthy. So we’re going to find out real fast if he’s really put last season’s playoff debacle behind him. And if you don’t like the Penguins, it could be fun to watch.

3. Lofty Expectations
The Penguins are already being tabbed as the favorites to come out of the East this year. They’ve been in this spot before, but now there appears to be more pressure on the team than ever, especially after last season.

Prediction
They’re good, make no mistake about it. They’ll beat up on the this division once again and will have another serious look at a Cup. First in Metropolitan.

Must-Follow Penguins Twitter AccountI have to give a shout out to Penguins uber-fan and fantasy hockey co-owner Lexi, who is someone that you need to follow. Also, Blitzburgh Brian is an insightful guy who’s probably sick of covering the Steelers right about now.

I am Ryan Thomas, and these previews are only gonna get shorter. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because I could use the followers.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #4 Boston Bruins

In Hockey on May 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm

As if the first two rounds of the playoffs weren’t awesome enough, now comes the matchup that everyone east of the Mississippi has been waiting for. Two teams that don’t like each other will meet with storylines dripping all over the series. I haven’t watched a whole lot of the Eastern Conference this playoff season, but you can bet I’ll be tuned into what should be a slugfest between the Penguins and Bruins.

After making the switch to Tomas Vokoun against the Islanders, the Penguins have been on cruise control, and it showed in a beating of the Senators in round two. Offense has been the story for the Penguins, especially on the power play where it looks like me playing NHL 13 against someone with no arms. The Pens have been lethal no matter who is on the ice, and for a sport that has been criticized as of late for a lack of offense, the Penguins have silenced those critics by lighting up the scoreboard. No question the talent offensively favors the Pens, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla, Kris Letang, etc. on board. My only knock is that Pittsburgh has played against some pretty miserable defensive teams on their way to hockey’s final four.

But don’t discount the work the Penguins’ defense did. They held a talented, yet depleted team in check in the win, and this team has been given a boost by Vokoun’s play in net. The Penguins trust the veteran netminder, and that stability in goal allowed everyone to do what they’re best at. Which is scoring a butt-load of goals.

But the Bruins should slow down the potent Penguins attack, with Crosby seeing a steady diet of Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Not that it matters, because Sid is at the top of his game and Malkin will have a chance to match up against the Bruins’ second line, which favors Geno.

After their first round scare with Toronto, the Bruins got their act together and throttled the New York Rangers, who had clearly given up on their coach. Yes, the Bruins defense was nasty in their five-game victory. But they were also up against a team with a major deficiency. In this case, that was the Rangers’ horrendous offense, which the B’s successfully shut down.

But what surprised me about the Bruins is that their offense finally came around. Milan Lucic rounded into the beast that the NHL should fear and the Bruins got a nice boost from young defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug, with Krug lighting up the Ranger for four goals from the point. Tyler Seguin finally got on the board against the Rangers, and that needs to continue because of how important he is to any success tied to the Bruins’ offense. Also, if the newly crowned “Merlot Line” of Shawn Thornton, Greg Campbell and Dan Paille continues to cause havoc, that only helps the B’s.

That offense is going to need to take some of the pressure off of Tuukka Rask, who has the unenviable task of facing the Penguins’ shooters all series. Boston can’t try to turn this into a track meet, because they’ll get burned. Expect lots of clogging the neutral zone from the B’s who do that as well as any team in the league.

Pittsburgh Will Win If…
The offense continues to be balanced. Chara and Dennis Seidenberg can’t play against both Sid and Geno. But the Penguins’ depth with Brandon Sutter, Brenden Morrow, Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke all capable of scoring on the third and fourth lines. If those lines can cause problems for the Bruins’ bottom defensive pairing and neutralize the Merlot Line and Chris Kelly’s line, Pittsburgh is going to cause the Bruins headaches.

Boston Will Win If…
They can stay out of the penalty box. Pittsburgh dines out on the power play, and for a team that plays as physical as the Bruins, that means that power plays are going to happen. You can get away with that against a PP unit as bad as the Rangers. Not here. Yes, Tuukka Rask is the most important player for the Bruins in shutting down the Penguins. But his mates are going to have to help him out a little bit by staying the hell away from the sin bin. More play at even strength improves the Bruins’ chances to win.

Prediction
This series should be a blast. With another series putting a lot of focus on Matt Cooke (for ending Marc Savard’s career), not to mention what these two teams did at the deadline involving Iginla and Jaromir Jagr was captivating. Now it gets to play itself out on the ice. Speaking of Jagr, will someone please look for him at any of New England’s finest casinos? The guy has been a non-factor thus far in the playoffs, but he should be jacked up for this series given the way he performed against Pittsburgh last year as a Flyer.

Pittsburgh is better on offense. Boston has the edge on D and in goal. Something has to give, and I’ll take the two-headed monster of Crosby and Malkin. Penguins in 6.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m proud of myself for actually trying on an Eastern Conference preview. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, and we can make fun of the NBA playoffs in unison.