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Penguins, Senators Set To Renew Hostilities In Second Round Showdown

Posted by Don Melrose on 5/14/2013 7:04:32 PM

The Pittsburgh Penguins addressed their biggest issues in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Stanley Cup favorites hope their goaltending will hold up in round two. The top-seeded Penguins are set to clash with the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Semi-Final round, with plenty of bad blood still brooding between these franchises. The Senators had no problem with the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, and the drama from Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke’s hit that tore the Achilles of Senators’ defenseman Erik Karlsson has set the online sports betting stage for what should be another intense and physical series.

NHL Eastern Conference Semi-Final
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
Best-of-7 Series

Pittsburgh split its first four games of its best-of-seven first round series before head coach Dan Bylsma finally made the decision to turn to Tomas Vokoun, and that was one decision that could be marked as the decisive turning point. Vokoun started games dive and six for the Penguins, stopping all 30 shots he faced in a 3-0 shutout win in game five and then turning away 35 of 38 shots he faced in a 4-3 overtime win to clinch the series in game six. Vokoun will get the call in goal for Pittsburgh against the Rangers, and he will need a strong sports betting performance opposite Craig Anderson’s .950 save percentage ranks second in the NHL after the first round, and the Penguins are going to have to find a way to get to the dirty areas and make life miserable for him in the ways that the Montreal Canadiens failed to get done in the opening round.

As powerful as Pittsburgh’s offense looked this season, the truth is that we may not have seen it at its best to this point. Captain Sidney Crosby is still developing chemistry with new line mate Jarome Iginla after spending more than a month on the sideline due to injury to close out the year. Evgeni Malkin leads all scorers with 11 points in these playoffs, two points ahead of Crosby and Iginla. Pascal Dupuis is tied with David Krejci for the league-lead in goals with five, and the Penguins’ depth will be among the key differences in this online sportsbook series.

The Senators don’t have the offensive weapons that Pittsburgh does, and could have a tough time keeping up. Ottawa is particularly weak down the middle with Jason Spezza still not ready to return to the lineup, and that just happens to be the Penguins’ strength with Crosby and Malkin. The Senators are going to have to find a way to get more bodies to the front of the net and create more traffic in front of Vokoun, and Pittsburgh will take a similar approach. The Penguins are too loaded up front to be held down the way that the Canadiens were, and it will only be a matter of time before they solve Anderson and put up some big numbers in this series. How much of an impact the feud between Cooke and Karlsson has on this series will be interesting, but it won’t prevent Pittsburgh from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

NHL Betting Pick: Penguins in Six

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