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Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

Posted on: April 11, 2011 6:34 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:13 pm
 

Minus Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the last few months of the season didn’t stop the Penguins from securing home ice for the first round. It speaks to the job Dan Bylsma and his coaching staff have done in working with their healthy assets. First-year Lightning coach Guy Bucher deserves credit as well for returning the Lightning to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Two cogs --- Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis --- are still around from the team’s 2004 Cup title team and Steven Stamkos continues to be a threat in his third season in the NHL. The home team won each of the team’s four meetings this season. 

Here's the breakdown:

Forwards:   James Neal (Dallas) and Alex Kovalev (Ottawa) were brought in before the deadline by Pens GM Ray Shero. Neal has only had one goal in his 20 games since the trade and Kovalev has two tallies since his return to Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t much mattered. It’s more about defensive responsibility and making the most of other team’s mistakes these days for the Pens. That could change, however, if Crosby (concussion) is cleared to play. Stamkos was surpassed by Anaheim’s Corey Perry for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (most goals), but he still finished with 45, the most by any Eastern Conference player. One wildcard could be Lightning (and former Pens) forward Ryan Malone, out nearly two months with an abdominal injury. He returned March 31 and scored three goals over his last four games.

Edge: Tampa Bay. 


Defense: The only playoff-bound team that allowed more goals per game in the regular season than the Lightning was the Detroit Red Wings. Tampa (2.85 goals per game) finished tied for 21st in goals-against average.  Eric Brewer was the Lightning’s top player in plus-minus (plus-5) and a good portion of Tampa’s blueliners are in the minus category. The Lightning could get Randy Jones, out the final month of the season with a high ankle sprain, back for the series. With Brooks Orpik back from a broken finger, the Pens have a solid group of defenders to rely upon. Kris Letang, who played in all 82 games, had his best year offensively in the NHL (50 points) and was a plus-15. The team also didn’t stumble when it lost Alex Goligoski, who was traded to Dallas in the Neal deal.

Edge:
Pittsburgh

Goalies: Marc-Andre Fluery is front and center when it comes to the Pens’ chances to advance. He had a slow start, losing six of his first seven decisions this season, but rebounded with a 14-game streak where he was unbeaten in regulation. Dwayne Roloson, at 41, is the Lightning’s best option net. It will be his first venture into the playoffs since he led the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. His best days of goaltending may behind him, but there's a chance he could steal one.

Edge:
Pittsburgh. 

Special teams: Tampa Bay did a solid job drawing penalties, finishing second behind the Carolina Hurricanes in power-play opportunities. Team speed, led by Stamkos and St. Louis, will do that. The Lightning finished second in power-play goals (69) and were sixth overall in percentage (20.5 percent.) But they are going up against the league’s best penalty-killing team at 86.1 percent. That certainly could make up for the fact the Pens’ power play minus weapons Crosby and Malkin has fallen to 25th, the worst among playoff teams.

Edge:
None.

-- A.J. Perez
Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:35 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Apr 12, 2011
Posted on: April 23, 2011 11:15 am
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

Spiral....apparently you are watching a different team named the Penguins?   IF by smoke and mirrors you mean solid defense, great goal tending, smart coaching and heart & hustle from the players, then you would be correct.   Let's break down your comments here... You have the Pens losing the series. Wrong.   You have Mario selling the team ASAP.  Wrong.  You think Steve Downie is a force to be reckonned with. Wrong. He's a goon.  And, you brought Stamkos into the equation.  Where has he even been?  40 goals in 52 games and only 5 in his last 32?  He's really been a dangerous player lately, hasn't he??      It's time for you to deal with the fact that the Pens are moving on and you can go hang out at the beach.



Since: Mar 3, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

I must agree with a few of the other folks who insist you know nothing about hockey. When you spew hate instead of fact, it shines through with your lack of hockey intelligence. Before you make ridiculous comments, maybe take a look at the NHL minor league. Any idea who has the most talent, depth, and overall best farm system??? You've got it, the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you also would look into the fact that Lenieux and the rest of the owners are basically printing money now that they have the beautiful Consol arena, no selling and success for many years to come. Do the folks that actually watch hockey a favor and keep your mouth shut. It smells awfully bad when you open it up. 



Since: Aug 7, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

Steve Downie couldn't beat Eric Godard's sister. In fact, Godard beat him so many times when he played for the Flyers that they threw him out of Philly. I heard they traded him to Tampa Bay for a warm six pack of Budweiser and two tickets to Busch Gardens. The Pen's fourth line enforcer will be enough to keep Downie in line.




Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

As a Lightning Season ticket holder since their inaugural season at Expo Hall at the Fair Grounds, glad the Bolts are back in the playoffs! It should be a tough back and forth series. I think if the lightning PP shows and we can get by PIT, I think they can make a deep run in the playoffs as they match-up well with lots of the East teams, with the exception of Boston! Go Lightning!



Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

spiralarchitech wrote:

Pens have been doing it with smoke and mirrors. The air will clear and the glass will break.Not only do they lose the series, but this will be the begginning of the end. Sid is not coming back and when he does that pitbull instinct will be more like a scared lap dog.Mario will be selling ASAP, the francise value at all time high will only go down from here.The real key to this series, look the wrong way at Stamkos and introduce yourself to Steve Downie. He's been out a couple of times this year, but when he's there, they all play better.

I'm guessing you don't actually follow hockey much, is that correct, spiral? Because if you did, you'd know that the Pens are essentially at this point the model franchise in the NHL, with apologies only to the Red Wings. Of course Sidney Crosby will be back, though it might not be until next season. Evgeni Malkin will be back as well, and they will blending perfectly into a team that has now demonstrated remarkable depth. Add to that the incredibly strong defense, stone-cold lock goal tending, superb coaching (Dan Bylsma should be a lock for the Adams Trophy as NHL Coach of the Year), and youth of the team in general, and what you have in the Pens is a team built to contend for the Cup every year for the next 5 or 6 years. Clearly, if you in fact followed hockey to any degree, you would have already known this, so I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you've come over to hockey recently, perhaps from a lifetime of watching other sports, like tennis or golf. Tongue out


IPCCGOREFRAUD
Since: Feb 17, 2010
Posted on: April 13, 2011 11:12 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 9:41 am
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

Should be a good series hopefully we can stay out of the box the pens spent a lot of time in the box from penalties this year they are not the juggernaut that can make up a lot of goals offensively without their two stars but they have played solid without them.



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 9:17 am
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

Pens have been doing it with smoke and mirrors. The air will clear and the glass will break.Not only do they lose the series, but this will be the begginning of the end. Sid is not coming back and when he does that pitbull instinct will be more like a scared lap dog.Mario will be selling ASAP, the francise value at all time high will only go down from here.The real key to this series, look the wrong way at Stamkos and introduce yourself to Steve Downie. He's been out a couple of times this year, but when he's there, they all play better.



Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 8:30 am
 

Preview: No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay

"Let's examine the excellent use of the English language:

lol - would not want to waste your time having to "spell" more words
i - should be "I"
jeolose - should be "jealous"
there - should be "their"
whats - should be "what is"
LETS GO PENS - probably should have been "LETS GO PENIS"

Unfortunately, I only have this one sampling to go by, but I can't believe this was able to net you All-Star status."

I doubt your obsession with the male genitalia was able to net you All-Star status either.



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