It's time for us to embarrass ourselves yet again. If you thought our thoughts about the Senators' previous series were silly, wait until you read what we think about this upcoming series.
1. Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson tied for the team points lead with 6 each in 5 games. Alfie is 40 and Erik Karlsson is still recovering from having his season ended by not letting his season be ended. Who do you feel is more likely to lead the team in scoring at the end of this series? Or will it be someone else entirely?
Bobby - I have a hunch that this series may have a few overtime games, so that means I'm picking Kyle Turris to lead the team in points. I think MacLean may ask Karlsson and Alfie for more defensive zone starts this series, trusting in a hobbled EK and a captain halfway to being an octogenarian to lead the team with two-way play against some of the Penguins' stars. Also, Gonchar knows this team (read: Evgeni Malkin) very well, so some of the Senators better offensive players may be doing their utmost to cancel out the contributions of Pittsburgh's world-class forwards. That means there will be a greater expectation on players like Turris and Zibanejad to create offence in this series. I wager they're up to the task.
Mark - In five periods against the Penguins this year, a healthy Erik Karlsson has no points and three shots. Alfredsson is going to have better opportunities for points than Karlsson, and is going to have more points than the kid. But I like Jean-Gabriel Pageau to lead the team in points when all is said and done.
Amelia - Erik Karlsson will have 15 points. Daniel Alfredsson will have 7.
Adnan - Erik Karlsson will be much better with the 4-5 days of rest he received. I predict he will have one more point than the number of games played. Jason Spezza's return at some point in the series should also help with power play points.
Peter - It's got to be Erik Karlsson, no? Although there are reasons to believe Alfie can keep this up, Karlsson should be improving after a week to recover from Round One and some time to continue his rehab. He's also a point-per-game player against the Penguins in the post-season, and you know he's going to be hella motivated with Matt Cooke opposite him on the ice. He'll be ready to go from puck drop in Game One.
Dave - I think Kyle Turris is on the up and up. If Jason Spezza does come back, Turris is looking at second line competition where he excels. I like his chances.
Darren - Karlsson. He'll be coming off a nice rest and will have had time to work done of the kinks out of Ottawa's powerplay. Factor in his absurd time on ice, and he should lead the team.
Radek Monk's Mullet - Sergei Gonchar is vying for a new contract next year, so he's going to lead the team in points in order to impress the Penguins.
Ryan - Since I've been terrible at making standard predictions lately, I'm picking a dark horse: Mika Zibanejad.
2. The Islanders lost in six games to the Penguins in large part because outside of Peter Budaj, Evgeni Nabokov had the worst save percentage of any goalie in the playoffs at .842. We know Craig Anderson is starting every game for Ottawa barring injury. What save percentage do you think he needs to be at for the Senators to win the series?
Darren - If he's under .925 I think the Sens are in trouble.
Bobby - This is a tough question because it's fairly dependent on whether I think Vokoun plays well. No matter what, I think Anderson has to be better than .930. If Vokoun has a GAA in the neighbourhood of 2, I'd say Anderson needs to be around .940. The Penguins should come out as a different team than they were in the series with the Islanders, which means that Craig Anderson will have to be very, very good. That's par for the course, though. For a long time, the Senators couldn't achieve ultimate success in part owing to mediocre goaltending. Now, if the team doesn't get Vezina-quality netminding, it probably doesn't have any success. Funny how that works.
Mark - The Sens couldn't beat the Penguins when Anderson had a save percentage of .971. But in the other two losses, he was sub-.900, with .867 and .875 in a 4-2 and 3-1 loss respectively. Still, the Penguins averaged 29.3 shots against the Senators in three games this regular season. In the playoffs, they're averaging 27.8. If we assume they'll average 30 shots a game against the Senators, a save percentage of .933 should mean about 2 goals a game. That's been typical for Anderson this season anyway--his GAA was just 1.69 in the regular season. If the Sens can hold the Penguins to two goals a game, they'll have a great opportunity to win the series.
Radek Monk's Mullet - If MAF plays, something around 0.500 ought to do it. If Vokoun plays, and plays well, we'll need a 0.940 from Anderson. To be safe, I would recommend he post a 1.000.
Peter - If Andy can somehow maintain his .950 save percentage, then the Sens will almost certainly win the series. But that would be insane against the shooters that Pittsburgh has, so I think even .920 or so should do it, as long as Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury struggle against the Sens' shooters.
Ryan - 935 minimum, assuming that Tomas Vokoun stays the Vokoun we've seen so far.
Adnan - The Penguins throughout the season haven't out-shot the opposition significantly and were out-shot by five per game against the Islanders, although the Senators suffered a similar fate against the Canadiens. The Penguins will have their chances, but their defence will give up their share of chances as well. I think Craig Anderson will simply have to be slightly better than Vokoun and/or Fleury. If Anderson can be over 91.5% and close to 92%, I like Ottawa's chances.
Dave - He needs to continue being excellent. I'm not sure we'll score as often as the Islanders with Vokoun in net instead of Fleury. I'd say .935
Amelia - Nabokov was really bad. Andy has to be good, even great, but not record-setting for the Sens to win the series. The Sens can get to Round 3 if Andy hits .930.
3.Pittsburgh's PK is third in the playoffs, operating at 90%. Ottawa scored six power play goals in two games, and no power play goals in three of their five games. Advantage Pittsburgh?
Peter - Advantage Pittsburgh, for sure. Ottawa's PK is better than Pittsburgh's, but the Sens pretty well have no powerplay--I'll just write-off the goals Ottawa scored on the man advantage, because they came in weird situations. For the rest of the series, Ottawa's powerplay could barely break into the Habs' zone.
Ryan - Definitely advantage Pittsburgh. Ottawa's goals were scored on huge momentum shifts during runaway games. When it really matters, it's terrible.
Bobby - Back when the Pens and Sens was a regular sight in the first round, one of the sights I feared most was Sergei Gonchar at the top of the umbrella and Evgeni Malkin lurking just off the half boards, toward the top of the faceoff circle. With the weapons the Senators have and the years that have since passed, Gonchar doesn't command the same level of respect. However, if Karlsson uses the rest well, if Jason Spezza gets back into the lineup, and if the team magically stumbles upon the essential secret to a clean zone entry, Ottawa could be close to respectable on the powerplay. That's a lot of big ifs. Advantage Pittsburgh.
Mark - I feel like the New York Islanders' power play generated a lot more movement than Ottawa's did. I'm dreading the special teams matchup here. I'm not as worried about Ottawa's PK as i am about their PP. Even if they can bring down Pittburgh's absurd 33% PP unit, if Ottawa's PP unit can't find a way to get going, what the PK does won't matter. Advantage Pittsburgh for sure. They can win this series without a strong PP, and Ottawa can't.
Adnan - While the Penguins penalty kill held out in the first round, they were under 80% in the regular season. With the state of the Penguins defence and goaltending, and Karlsson getting better and Spezza returning, I think Ottawa will be 20% or higher.
Dave - Short answer, yes. The Ottawa powerplay has been its Achilles heel (pun SO INTENDED) all year.
Darren - Yes, advantage Pittsburgh.
Amelia - Power play advantage to Pittsburgh. They look scary good with the man-advantage. Ottawa has to played disciplined hockey if the Sens hope to contain Crosby and Co.
Radek Monk's Mullet - This one won't have a joke because Ottawa's PP is already enough of one. Most of those PPGs came in the third period against the Habs when the game was already out of reach. I think Ottawa needs a complete re-tooling of their powerplay. I'm sick of trying to set Turris and Alfie up for bad-angled shots from the boards. They need to go for higher percentage plays.
4. Jean-Gabriel Pageau emerged as a hero for the first series. Who is most likely to exceed expectations in this one?
Amelia - Erik Karlsson. Round 1 illustrated that the Norris trophy winner is not at 100%. He missed a couple tap-ins that would be easy goals for him if he was completely right. He made several mistakes in his own end and doesn't have his explosive speed. It's safe to say many have more realistic expectations for him heading into Round 2 (although, obviously I'm an not included in that group). Pittsburgh's attacking philosophy, shaky defense, and goaltending question marks might be a plus for Karlsson. With the extra rest, Karlsson has it in him to break out offensively in this series.
Darren - I want to say Zibanejad, but everyone else already did, so I'll go with Silfverberg.
Radek Monk's Mullet - Jean-Gabriel Pageau double hat trick.
Ryan - I'm going Zibanejad, since I already picked him to lead the team in scoring.
Adnan - Milan Michalek is my pick. He had 15 shots in the first round and at least three shots in four of the five games. With Spezza returning, he just might start to find some success.
Peter - I could see Mika Zibanejad really hit his stride in this series. His style is tailor-made for the playoffs, and the Penguins' defenders will not enjoy his aggressive, punishing forecheck. If Mikachu can be just a little better when the puck is on his stick, he should get more than his fair share of points this series.
Dave - Mika Zibanejad. With the focus on Spezza's return, Karlsson's injury, Alfie's age-defiance and Turris' emergence, not a lot has been made of Mika. I think he'll have a strong series, even if moved to the wings.
Bobby - Cory Conacher had a weird first playoff series, but finished strong. His speed and net drive will cause problems for the Penguins. I can't wait to see him pestering big Douglas Murray in the slot.
Mark - I like Pageau again. Pittsburgh's third paring isn't loaded with speed, and that's where the opportunities for points are going to come. I think Pageau is the guy who's going to be able to convert those opportunities into points.
5. What's your series prediction?
Amelia - Sens in 6. The extra game is so Karlsson can get 15 points.
Adnan - Like the first round, Ottawa's goaltending is going to equalise any advantage that Pittsburgh has among the skaters - which I don't think is much to begin with. Ottawa in six.
Peter - Senators in six. If it goes to seven, I don't like the Sens' chances back in Pittsburgh; they'd have to win it at home if they're to win it at all.
Dave - Ugh. I hate myself, but Pens in 6 and I hope beyond everything that I'm wrong.
Bobby - Sens in six because this season is just too fun to end.
Mark - I firmly believe the winner of this series will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. If Karlsson and Spezza were both at 100%, I would have a very different prediction. But they're not, so I don't. Pens in six.
Darren - Pittsburgh in 6. Ottawa struggled against Pittsburgh a few weeks ago when the Pens scratched most of their high end talent, and Pittsburgh had enough of a scare against the Islanders that they will come out flying.
Radek Monk's Mullet - The *cough*-ens will take this one in 6. (Ed. note - What a copout.)
Ryan - Senators in 6. I'm a shameless homer. See my lack of shame.