Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators – Playoffs on the Line


If you’ve ever watched the show Carnivale on HBO, you’re familiar with the saying, “The day that was the day”.

Well folks, for the Pittsburgh Penguins, today is “The day that was the day”.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators will square off tonight at the Canadian Tire Center with a potential playoff bid on the line. For Pittsburgh, it’s as simple as win and you’re in the post season. If they lose, things will get very interesting.

The two teams have been at opposite ends of the spectrum over the last month of the season. The Pittsburgh Penguins are a struggling team looking to right the ship before the playoffs, and the Ottawa Senators are a team that wasn’t even in playoff conversations until they called up rookie Goaltender Andrew Hammond.

Mar 15, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond (30) is introduced prior to the start of game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Flyers 2-1 in a shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch – Ottawa
Andrew Hammond is on an absolute tear in his first season as an NHL goaltender. His record is 17-1-2 since joining the Senators.  He touts a GAA of 1.86 with a SV% of .939, leading the NHL in both categories among goalies with twenty or more starts. Considering that the Penguins are coming into this game with one of the worst shooting percentages in the league tonight will be a true test.

Erik Karlsson is a defenseman that can be compared to Kris Letang with his offensive ability.   It isn’t often that you see a Defenseman lead a potential playoff team in points. However, Karlsson is doing exactly that, as he is five points ahead of Kyle Turris with 65 points (21g, 44a). Erik Karlsson has recently come up in Norris Trophy conversations and can surely give the Pittsburgh Penguins a headache tonight, especially on the power play.

Players to Watch – Pittsburgh
Evgeni Malkin returned from injury on Easter Sunday and had a very strong game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He wasn’t able to cash-in on his chances but came extremely close when he rung one off the post of an empty net as Steve Mason was down and out. I Look for Malkin to return to the score sheet tonight, potentially in a big way.

Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing David Perron (39) against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the Consol Energy Center. Canadiens defeated the Penguins 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

David Perron is a guy to watch tonight as he has been uncharacteristically bad recently, and that trend can’t continue. He was visually frustrated this past weekend, and ultimately caused a very important goal against Columbus when he turned the puck over at his own blue line, allowing a two on one. Perron knows what he needs to do. He could get off the schneid tonight.

Keys to the Game
The keys to tonight’s game are simple. It really boils down to one very important issue that the Pittsburgh Penguins have. They absolutely have to remain patient, and trust their system. They showed that they can dominate play and create scoring chances against Philly. Tonight, it may take some time to solve Hammond, and guys like Eric Gryba are going to be nasty in front of the net. But, remain cool, don’t take stupid penalties, and trust that you’re going to bury a few if you keep creating scoring opportunities.

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