Playoff Preview: Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa. Pick 'em.

I'm going to do what instinctively sounds like a bad idea, because it creates more work for myself, which means I should stop right now. However, I can only attach one poll per post -- so I can't poll all eight series at once; thus, here begins a string of eight playoff series previews over the next few days.

It should stir up some talk (or at least votes) and hopefully get you engaged in the NHL playoffs. Why? Because the playoffs are awesome with or without the Islanders. (Even better than April baseball, so you just put that remote down right now, mister.) I promise these posts won't interfere with the lottery and season recap threads.

Some relevant Isles and series-specific links after the jump (which is after the poll if you're on the main page). But the easy thing is to just vote. Vote with your heart, or vote with your head -- I don't care. I just like pretty bar charts.

League News: Carnage in Tampa

You probably heard that new Lightning owner Jeff Vinik threw out the garbage cleaned house with extreme prejudice. It's early, but I dare say they might have a competent owner now. Via Raw Charge, here is speculation on the candidates to replace GM Brian Lawton, and here is a strong hint that the job is ex-Wild and ex-Flames GM Doug Risebrough's if he wants it.

Best of all? Here is an awesome Toronto radio interview with Lawton, in which he praises his own work, the players he brought in, kills former coach Rick Tocchet with faint praise ("Rick's ... a good guy."), and naturally chalks the move up to a new owner just wanting a fresh start.

AHL: Bridgeport Playoffs

Bridgeport's playoffs start Wednesday in Hershey. Schedule is here. They could be over by Sunday -- not unthinkable given the Bears' chocolatey strength -- as games 3 and 4 are at home Saturday and Sunday. Dustin Kohn, on the Clear Day List, still sounds questionable.

World Championships Goes Go-Go

Confirmed: Scott Gordon will coach Team USA, with Wild coach Todd Richards as one of his assistants. Gordon brings along his video coach Ryan Ward, and Katie Strang says Kyle Okposo and Jack Hillen "will play."

Huh? I Thought This was a Pens-Senators Post?

Ah yes, so it is. The defending champs versus the Sutton Campolis. Minus Alexei Kovalev. Interesting.

Pit-head_medium                Ott-face_medium

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins (47-28-7) vs. (5) Ottawa Senators (44-32-6)

 Wednesday, April 14 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Friday, April 16 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Sunday, April 18 at Ottawa, 6:30 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
Tuesday, April 20 at Ottawa, 7:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Thursday, April 22 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Saturday, April 24 at Ottawa, 7:00 p.m. CBC, VERSUS
*Tuesday, April 27 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC

 

Reasons to Pick the Penguins: Playoff experience, goaltending, two lottery stars, NHL favoritism. Ottawa's powerplay is weak, and their .88 GF/GA at 5-on-5 is in the vicinity of the Islanders and Hurricanes. PK is mighty good though.

Reasons to Pick the Senators: Andy Sutton hasn't been in the playoffs in four years, and he's never won a playoff game. All that pent-up energy, he just might knock a Penguin or two out and alter the series. Beyond that...I got nothing.

Reasons to Root for the Senators: Matt Cooke. Also: If you hate Crosby. Or if you want Sutton or Campoli to do well.

Reasons to Root for the Penguins: Jarkko Ruutu. Also: If you like Sutton and want him to discover that the grass is never greener so he might as well come back, for cheap, at just one year. Or if you covet Anton Volchenkov and want him to discover that the grass here sucks, he might as well take the money and jump to the Islanders, for a little more, for a few more years..

Or maybe you think ol' Captain Billy McNulty Guerin deserves even more postseason love. Or if you think a furrowed-brow Penguin is cuter than a Trojan logo.

In all seriousness: I like what Cory Clouston has done in Ottawa, but they should be outmanned by the Pens, and the defending champs won't be going down that easily, this early. That said, this is not an ideal first-round matchup. I suppose that's obvious when you're talking about facing the 5th seed, but there you go. It's still true.

So that I'm not hiding behind my own poll: Head says Penguins in six. Heart says I'd love to see the underdog stun Pittsburgh and ruin the marketers' dreams of a Pens-Capitals rematch. (In truth, a Pens-Caps rematch would be cool, I can't deny it. You want to knock off the guys who beat you the year before.)

How about you?

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