Blog Entry

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

Posted on: April 29, 2010 12:49 am
Edited on: April 29, 2010 10:41 am

No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens

Wes Goldstein's Take

The Penguins will win if: They stay patient and don't fall into the trap of getting down early in games. The Canadiens proved they can hold leads, and that they can stymie power offenses with their smart team defense and ability to block shots. Avoiding unnecessary penalties will be critical for the Penguins as well because the Canadiens power play is deadly.

The Canadiens will win if: Jaroslav Halak continues to be the best goaltender in these playoffs, although he'd be helped a lot of the Habs limit Pittsburgh to oh, say about 40 shots per game. That's the level that brings out the best in Halak. Montreal has to find a way to produce more at even strength though and the defense needs to keep Pittsburgh's big guns to the outside they way it did against Washington.


How They Got Here

Pittsburgh: Defeated the Ottawa Senators, 4-2, in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals ... Finished the regular season with a 47-28-7 record for 101 points (2nd, Atlantic Division)

Montreal: Defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals ... Finished the regular season with a 39-33-10 record for 88 points (4th, Northeast Division)

Complete Schedule & Bracket


Date Location Time
April 30 at Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
May 2 at Pittsburgh 2 p.m.
May 4 at Montreal 7 p.m.
May 6 at Montreal 7 p.m.
May 8 at Pittsburgh * 7 p.m.
May 10 at Montreal * 7 p.m.
May 12 at Pittsburgh * TBA
* if necessary


Season Series
Pittsburgh wins, 3-1
Date Result
Oct. 28 Pittsburgh 6, Montreal 1 Recap
Nov. 25 Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1 Recap
Dec. 10 Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 2 Recap
Feb. 6 Montreal 5, Pittsburgh 3 Recap


Stats Comparison
Statistic PIT MON
Goals For (Avg.) 4.00 2.86
Goals Against (Avg.) 3.17 3.14
Power Play 25.0% 20.0%
Penalty Kill 68.2% 97.0%


Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 6:28 pm

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

Le Den 69 wrote

...they have the better goaltender hands down
Hmm, as best I can tell Fluery is one of the better playoff goalies in the game today (proved it the past two years).  Halak is playing well, but just 2 weeks ago he was probably wondering if he would play in the NHL again when his contract is up.  Basically, he stunk up the place.  Fortunately for him, so did Price.  Now all the sudden with a few good games he is THE BEST.  Humorous is the word I am looking for and keep the laughs coming please.

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 1:02 pm

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

Yoss, I agree with your analysis to a great extent; especially on team differences. What I saw different about the Caps in the last two games of this series is that their number of quality chances increased three fold, and for whatever reason (mostly Halak) the shots were stopped. I think the Caps got psyched out by Halak's phenomenal play, and hit a lot more clangers off the pipes trying to be too precise (top shelf left/right, etc). Halak has one of the better butterfly moves I've seen, so don't think 5-hole if you're a shooter; think shoulder and top shelf. Nothing low is going in; unless he's really badly out of position; which he doesn't seem to get.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Pens have the talent to win this game. I'm saying they better take Halak and the Habs a lot more seriously than a 8 seed usually is or they will lose the series. They better be ready to grind down low and in the crease to get some dirty goals; because from mid to long range, the Habs have excellent shielders (Gill et al), even before the shots get to Halak. The Pens will not get the quality shots they get against a lesser defensive team (like the Caps), so extra passes aren't always helpful. Just look at the Caps power play during the season, very good, but against the Habs in their sucked back zone, there were no openings, just bodies. They basically don't rotate to the puck, they clog the shooting lane by dropping back into a tighter quad/triangle.

For example, the Pens have Crosby behind the net or in the corner with puck. Halak guards the corner Crosby is on, and the Habs corner defender drops back so Kunitz or Guerin can't flash inside on a quick give/go from Crosby. Lets say Crosby is on a wing and presses in, the defensive quad tightens, so Crosby passes to top, who swings opposite side, same thing happens on that side. The most effective technique is to crash the point, and pass to the side where the defender bites the hardest. That should give one of the wings a good shot. Its possible Gonchar might be the best point because he passes well bringing it into the zone. I think a precise pass to a Crosby or Gino (or Guerin) has a good chance to find net; but thats where Halak has possessed phenomenal skills.

If Halak plays anything like he has been, its going to be frustrating for the Pens and the Igloo. Its going to be a tight series if he does.

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 10:29 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

I agree that Halak is playing great, but while your math is right based on the stats, the logic is a little off.  The Caps fire a ton of shots at every goaltender, which is why Ovechkin has 100+ more shots than everyone else in the league.  This was one of the problems with the Caps, in that they have talent and figure that if they just keep firing shots, something is going to go in eventually.  And while I agree that the Caps are playing great and that the Pens should definitely be concerned, especially because they are facing a team that plays strong defensively, with a great goalie (sounds kind of like the Devils, who the Pens couldn't beat all year), there is a big difference between the Pens and the Caps game plans. 

As someone pointed out, the Caps are more of a "rush" North/South team that moves the puck quickly down the ice and tries to fire a bunch of shots.  The Pens are more of a possession team that moves East/West with a lot of passing, and looking for the high percentage shot (sometimes looking too much for the perfect shot).  The Pens also have more grinders, and they were quite good at getting the garbage in front of the net (Crosby, Cooke, Guerin, etc...).  I think (hope) that there is going to be a big difference in this series, as opposed to the last, and I don't think that the Pens are looking at the numbers and think that they have to fire 50+ shots every night the way that the Caps tried.  The Pens are going to be more content on getting quality looks.  The Pens also tend to work better along the boards and move the puck out to the front of the net, whereas the Caps create more openings with their speed.

Regardless of what is on paper/game plans, fans of both teams are in for a treat.  I think that the last round ended up as being the offense/defense matchup, and it illustrated the old maxim, offense wins games, but defense wins championships (or at least series).  So, while the Pens are not as strong defensively as they were last year, they are a lot more balanced than the Capitals which will likely lead to higher scoring for both teams. 

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 7:00 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

In Canada, hockey is religion, and the Habs have Jesus Christ in the goal (just ask them, or read their papers), so the Pens might be doomed because Jesus is stopping an unearthly 98% of the shots pitched at him. The game plan for the Habs is simple, they play very frantic for the first period, then drop into what the NBA would call an illegal defense (several guys crowd the crease) and then with Gill & co. deflecting more shots than Halak (I mean Jesus) faces, its difficult to get the puck in the net. The Caps found that out in their series. I don't care if you shoot 90 shots a game at them, thats only going to net one goal against that type of defense. I don't know why more teams don't play their style of team defense; it will definitely shut down high powered teams like the Pens and Caps. If the Pens aren't careful, the Habs will take them in 6 or 7.

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 6:31 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal


Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: April 30, 2010 6:29 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

Love your enthusiasm.  It's great for the game.  The Habs do not have the better goaltender.  He is the hottest goaltender right now and we all knwo goaltenders cool off.  Pens win 4 of 5.  Pens would sweep, but either they will lose one game due to hot goaltending or they will take a night off and lay an egg.  Pens in 5 my friend.  Enjoy your Spring and Summer.  Maybe Sid could bring the Cup to your hometown during his day with the puck.

Since: Feb 7, 2010
Posted on: April 29, 2010 8:48 pm

Montreal %20 chance of beating the Penguins.

First Montreal played tough smart hockey against the Caps and they had great goaltending.  But the Penguins have a complete different team and makeup than the Caps.  The penguins are not going to get outworked, they have solid defense men like Jay Mckee, Eaton and hopefully Leopold comes back. They have solid gritty players like Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin not to mention Crosby and Malkin.  Penguins are not going to be afraid to bang aganist the boards, stand infront of the net, hit somebody or drop the gloves and fight.   The Pens are not goint to be out worked like the Caps did, now the only point of concern for the Pens will be Fleury but he is solid enough to bounce back after a tough game, and he will always give you one or two games during a series when you say wow he's the next Patrick Roy.

Since: Apr 29, 2010
Posted on: April 29, 2010 8:30 pm

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

HABS will do to Pittsburgh what they did to the Caps....block shots, score timely goals and kill you with the Power Play...they have the better goaltender hands down(he is the main reason they are playing  in the 2nd round). Home ice means nothing in the playoffs this year, as the road team has won more than the home team.....HABS IN 6....GO HABS G0Money mouth Money mouth

Since: Oct 13, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2010 9:05 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

Well, this is when the Pens shine.  Montreal had a nice series comeback against the Caps, and matched up well against them.  However, the Pens are the Stanley Cup reigning Champs, and know how to win.  They have Sid the Kid, and Geno along with a team of unrelentless players, scrappy and well disciplined.  Bill Guerin and Sergei Gonchar head a team destined for the finals.  This why SID IS THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE HANDS DOWN.  He makes everyone onhis team better, while Ovechkin, just does one thing well- SCORE.  Sid is an all-around player, and if he doesn't score in agame, the Pens STILL have a great chance to win, because someone else picks up the slack.  That's what wins the CUP, TEAM PLAYERS, and we got em" !!!!!!!  GO PENS !!!!!

Since: Jul 1, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2010 7:17 am

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Montreal

nice misprint above under the picture of gino

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