Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals
When it was announced that the Ottawa Senators would take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals, many hockey fans were shocked that a 98-point team was able to get this far in the first place. This is the fifth time that the two teams will face off in the series, with the Penguins winning the past four series. The Penguins defeated the Senators 4-1 in the 2012-2013 season before getting knocked out in the conference final.
This year, it looks like things are going to be a little different. In the first game, hosted by the Penguins, the Senators surprised everyone by pulling off an upset away win. In Game 2, the Penguins were eager to exact revenge on the Ottawa team, and were able to deliver on their promise. With the series tied at one-all, the third game was the first real test of the Senators strength, resilience and nerves.
The Senators struck first and never stopped applying the pressure. They arrived at the game, ready for action, something that was lacking in Game 2. The Penguins were also to blame for their disorganised defence zone though. It might have had something to do with the two new players joining the defence team since the regulars were out on injuries. In any event, Pittsburgh will have to seriously tighten up their defence in Game 4 if they want a shot at the Finals. For the senators, it was a good team effort with a full 10 players claiming at least one point each.
Senators Holding the Lead
With just two scheduled games to go, we need to look at the strengths of each team in round 1 and 2 that will drive the rest of the playoffs. For Pittsburgh, the team has a lot of star power to back them up including the likes of Phil Kessel, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Marc-Andre Fleury should also be thrown into the mix of players that could turn things around for the Penguins. Fleury has faced a lot of shots and holds an impressive save percentage of 0.921, which says a lot for the goalie.
For the Senators, their strengths in round 1 and 2 came from their ability to produce big plays from off-the-radar players. Bobby Ryan is one such player who has come back from a low scoring season with 9 points in just 12 playoff games. The Senators shorthand unit has also shown great promise slotting away 87.5% of all their head-on situations.