We have escaped the Island. No more shall we be haunted by the specter of Nassau Coliseum. Our less-than-stellar play at times in the series opened the proverbial demon’s door, bringing with it visions of Volek’s OT goal and the ensuing heart-break. That door was closed with a shot from the point in overtime as Assistant Captain Brooks Orpik catapulted the Penguins into the second round. The Penguin’s three-series losing streak against the Islanders was over, but a new challenge loomed just over the horizon. The Senators stormed over their fellow countrymen (Montreal) in the first round, splitting the first two games before the Senators (and injuries) sent the next three victories Ottawa’s way. A lack of discipline, bereft of mental toughness, and plagued by injury, the Montreal Canadiens mounted a valiant struggle in games one, two, and four, but gave up six goals in games three and five. The Islanders played very well in games two, three, four, and six, but only won two of those games. In games one and five, the Islanders were shut out and gave up five and four goals respectively. Had the Islanders’ defense and goaltender been more of a factor, the series could have gone very differently.
The Penguins carry a much different sort of momentum into the semifinals than the Senators. Coming off of a close series, the Penguins do not have the confidence of the surging Senators. The Penguins do not have a goaltender as hot as Craig Anderson, but they have a solidback-up in Tomas Vokoun who back-stopped wins in game 5 and 6. Vokoun will be starting game one, but the play of those in front of him will determine everything. If the Penguins who stormed to a 4-0 victory show up on ice tonight, Vokoun can get some breathing room and begin to establish a rhythm in net. The Senators will seek to disrupt this in any way they can. We will see how successful they will be tonight.