Senators at Penguins Picks and NHL Game 1 Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 5/14/2013
And so begins the second round. We have one team in this series that was widely expected to be here and one that probably wasn’t. Pittsburgh advanced as heavy favorites in their opener against the Islanders, though they certainly got more than they could have imagined from the feisty New York team and budding superstar John Tavares. They certainly don’t want to have to keep working that hard if they plan to go all the way to the Finals, or they will run out of gas.
Ottawa, meanwhile, pulled off a reasonable upset. To make it even more satisfying, they did it against their hated rivals and neighbors from Montreal. The Habs were badly beaten up, though, so the task was easier for the Senators than it might otherwise have been. Now Ottawa faces a healthier, much deeper, more experienced, and far more dangerous team.
Senators at Penguins Betting storylines
The biggest question to ask in this series — at least as we wait for it to begin — is what the Penguins are going to do in net. Marc-Andre Fleury opened the first round with a shutout, but then he forgot how to play. He was progressively worse in each outing and flat out cost his team Game 4 of the series. That was enough to get him yanked. The move wasn’t as hard to make as it would be for some teams because the Senators have the luxury of two high-level goalies. Backup Tomas Vokoun had a shutout in his first game and then was very strong in the 4-3 overtime win in the deciding game of the series. Now the team has a headache-inducing decision. Do they go back to their No. 1 guy who has taken them all the way to a Stanley Cup in the past? Or do they stick with the hot hand in Vokoun and ride him as long as they can? No decision has been made — at least publicly — as I write, but it will have a bearing on this series.
While Pittsburgh’s ability to stop the puck is a question, Ottawa’s isn’t. The team is second best in the league in goals against and combines strong goaltending and defensive discipline to strong effect. Goalie Craig Anderson has had a good year, and has been particularly strong in the playoffs. He completely frustrated Montreal — they all but gave up by the time the last game rolled around. This sets up one of the most intriguing matchups in the playoffs. Pittsburgh has the top offense in the league, was essentially scoring at will in the first round, and has dizzying offensive depth with at least six guys who are a threat to score every shift. It’s strength against strength, and that matchup will singularly determine what happens in the series.
If the regular season can be relied upon for education, then the Penguins and their offense should have at least a small edge — they swept the season series.
The Penguins have more depth than any team in the league on offense, but they are still built around captain Sidney Crosby. He missed the last month of the season and the first game of the playoffs with a broken jaw, so his health is a big concern if the team wants to make a deep run. There were real concerns about what to expect from him, but early on the indications are very positive. He has recorded at least a point in each of his five games since returning and has nine points overall over that time. He is only a -1 so far, but that has as much to do with the goaltending woes as anything, and it will improve. He has returned so strong and with such confidence — and chemistry with new teammate Jarome Iginla, who he never played with before he was hurt — that his health really can’t be viewed as a storyline in this series at this point.
Senators at Penguins NHL Game 1 Odds and Betting Trends
Ottawa is coming off an explosive six-goal performance to clinch their last series. That won’t intimidate Pittsburgh — they have won their last seven games against an opponent that scored five or more goals in their previous game. Four of the last five Pittsburgh games have gone over the total, and so have six of the last eight meetings between these teams. The Senators are just 1-4 in their last five in Pittsburgh.
Senators at Penguins Picks and Game 1 Betting Predictions
At this price I am tempted to pick the Senators, but I just can’t do it. Pittsburgh has too much going for them at home. Their goaltending is a concern, but they did get two shutouts in six games, so it is far from disastrous. They have great offensive depth and have had the luxury of time to practice and work out any kinks that got in the way in the first series. The goaltending can improve, the coaching is exceptional, and their experience is going to be a big factor in this one. Pittsburgh will come out strong to set a tone after getting caught off guard in the last series after the first game. Pittsburgh is the pick.
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