One team has suddenly become a villain among Isles fans (although I realize many hated Pittsburgh long before this year). The other team has become a sentimental favorite because they feature Dwayne Roloson (job well done) and to a lesser extent Sean Bergenheim (good motor, odd decision-maker) and Nate Thompson (frequent scapewagon resident, but still...family). Digging further back in time, there's also Marc-Andre Bergeron, who's been on a long Roli-guided playoff run before.
WebBard will have a FanPost pool up for everyone to pick your brackets all the way up to the finals, but this post will be the first of several individual series breakdowns (or gloss-overs) where you can vote with your head, or vote with your heart. (For example, my heart would say all Atlantic rivals are swept, but my head will admit that will only happen to the Smurfs.)
Vote in the poll, leave your rationale in comments, kick the ones you hate when they're down.
|Wednesday, April 13||at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.||CBC (HD)|
|Friday, April 15||at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.||CBC (HD)|
|Monday, April 18||at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.||CBC (HD), VERSUS (JIP)|
|Wednesday, April 20||at Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.||CBC (HD)|
|*Saturday, April 23||at Pittsburgh, TBD||CBC (HD), VERSUS (JIP)|
|*Monday, April 25||at Tampa Bay, TBD||CBC (HD)|
|*Wednesday, April 27||at Pittsburgh, TBD||CBC (HD)|
For the season, the home team won each game in regulation -- although the Penguin wins were routs (5-1, 8-1) while the Lightning wins were much closer (2-1, 5-3). Roloson was in goal for both that 35-save narrow 2-1 victory and the 8-1 blowout loss (which came right after he'd shut out the Capitals).
Health and all other variables being equal, the Penguins are the better team here. But health isn't equal -- the Pens are still without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, of course -- so this one at least has the ingredients for a tight series.
Regardless, for a good market in Tampa Bay that was abused by incompetent owners, it's good to see them back in the postseason under a new ownership that has a clue.
Random Details We Choose to Ascribe Significance
As we've seen, the Penguins powerplay is awful -- 25th in the league. But their PK is top-notch, the most efficient in the NHL this season. The Lightning PP clicks at 20 percent, but also was hugely susceptible to getting Grabner'd -- i.e. giving up a shorthanded goal. It will be fun to see Steven Stamkos in a playoff series, and you'd think the powerplay is where he can make the biggest difference. But Pittsburgh will be ready for that one-timer from the left wing circle.
Heart says: Lightning in a sweep, with Roloson shutting them out in three of four games and even scoring an empty-net goal.
Head says: Penguins in six. Despite their impressive play in stretches this season, the Lightning's inconsistency scares me. One minute they look like an excellent 5-on-5 team, the next minute things fall apart. They outshoot teams as well as the Pens do, but they're more reliant on their powerplay for goals -- and the Pens have an antidote for that. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope Roli goes on another 2006-esque run. We'll see.
Not Only But Also: So that this isn't completely devoid of Islanders topics, here's a nice quick read from 7th Woman on Jack Capuano's interaction with his players.