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How the Senators and Penguins Match Up

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A category-by-category look at the Eastern Conference Finals matchup

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltending

Adnan: Pittsburgh. I am assuming Matt Murray is going to start the series, or at least play most of the series. Craig Anderson is having a rough time at the moment.

Beata: Pittsburgh. Andy has so far been able to bounce back after bad games and has definitely made some very timely saves, but he's too inconsistent. Fleury has been on fire lately, and with Murray backing up, the Pens get the edge.

B_T: Ottawa. We’re all looking at Fleury and waiting for the shoe to drop, right? Goalies playing above their heads rarely keep it up for the whole playoffs, then you’ve got Murray coming in cold.

Callum: Although Anderson was solid in Game 6 and was the No. 2 reason why the Senators won that game, he has not been consistent enough. I'll take Marc-Andre Fleury's 92.7 save percentage. And after that, I'll take Matt Murray.

Colin: It will be interesting to see who Pittsburgh starts in game one, as although Matt Murray will be returning, Fleury played lights out in a tough series against the Capitals. Whoever they start, though, I think will have a slight edge over Craig Anderson, who let in some questionable goals in round two. Don't get me wrong, I think Anderson's a great goalie who could very well turn it up a notch, although for now the edge goes to the Penguins.

Peter: Goaltending: Ottawa. Although Pittsburgh's goaltending depth is stronger than Ottawa's, they can only play one of their goalies at a time--and, quite honestly, I'd take Anderson over either of Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray (at least for this series; long term, my thoughts might change). Anderson's numbers this year haven't been terrific, and he's struggled against Pittsburgh's top shooters, but I still think he's got another gear. We saw it in the first and last games of the series against New York, and will need to see more of it if Ottawa's going to have any chance this round.

Ross: Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury has turned the clock back to 2009, shutting down the league's best offensive team, and he might be the backup for this series. Ottawa can't compete with that.

Trevor: There might be a case for Craig Anderson here, but if Matt Murray is healthy and comes back, he's the better goalie. Plus Marc-Andre Fleury has been phenomenal in the playoffs, while Anderson has been inconsistent. It's not a blowout in this category, but I'd be a bit more comfortable with the Pittsburgh duo.

Decision: 6-2-0 Penguins

Poll

Which team has the better goaltending?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Ottawa
    (87 votes)
  • 55%
    Pittsburgh
    (193 votes)
  • 19%
    Tie
    (67 votes)
347 votes total Vote Now

Defense

Adnan: Ottawa, barely. Ottawa has by far the best defenceman in the world but Guy Boucher is giving far too many important minutes to Cody Ceci. But the third pairing is okay if Boro stays out. So without Kris Letang, I will call this a slight win for Ottawa.

Beata: Slight edge to Ottawa. Our second pairing is going to get destroyed by their forwards, but with all the injuries on the Penguins' blueline, Karlsson pushes us over the top.

B_T: I’ll go with the blue line that has the leading candidate to-date for playoff MVP.

Callum: The Penguins may have defensive depth, but the Senators have a Hulk-- err, I mean a Karlsson. Advantage Ottawa.

Colin: Ottawa takes the cake on this one, mostly because of Erik Karlsson's existence. An injured Letang surely plays a big factor, although the Penguins have seemed to fare well without him. Both teams have depth, although the Sens' superstar will be the deciding factor.

Peter: Ottawa. Erik Karlsson is the best player in the league right now. With Kris Letang out, the disparity between the two blue lines is even more striking.

Ross: Tie. Ottawa has the best defenceman in the world, but Pittsburgh has the better defensive depth.

Trevor: With Kris Letang healthy, this is close. However, without him, it's easy to say Ottawa purely because of Erik Karlsson The God.

Decision: 7-0-1 Senators

Poll

Which team has the better blue line?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Ottawa
    (271 votes)
  • 8%
    Pittsburgh
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    Tie
    (22 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now

Offense

Adnan: Pittsburgh by a long way. They are just loaded. This is going to be Ottawa's biggest concern.

Beata: Pittsburgh for sure. Our offense isn't too bad, but it doesn't come close to matching Pittsburgh's.

B_T: Will anybody pick anything other than Pittsburgh here?

Callum: This one isn't relatively close. If Sidney Crosby was out, I'd still give the advantage to Pittsburgh.

Colin: I'll take the playoff goals-per-game leaders for this one (Pittsburgh). They have superstars AND depth!

Peter: Pittsburgh. I don't know where Jake Guentzel came from or if he can keep doing what he's been doing, but Pittsburgh still has Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel; any one of those guys would likely be tops among Ottawa's forwards.

Ross: Pittsburgh by a landslide. Even if Crosby's hurt, this team is ridiculous.

Trevor: Like everyone else has said, Pittsburgh without a second thought. Those lines are just terrifying.

Decision: 8-0-0 Penguins

Poll

Which team has the better offense?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Ottawa
    (40 votes)
  • 84%
    Pittsburgh
    (265 votes)
  • 2%
    Tie
    (7 votes)
312 votes total Vote Now

Coaching

Adnan: Pittsburgh. Ottawa just played a mascot for two straight games to put themselves a man down.

Beata: Still going with Ottawa here. I've been a fan of Boucher's since day 1, and he's shown an ability to adapt to different opponents. While I'll admit that a few of his lineup and deployment decisions have been questionable, he hasn't made any particularly egregious moves (I'm willing to trust his judgement on the Neil situation even though I don't entirely understand it). Also, #TheSystem has been working well so far and should be a huge factor in this series.

B_T: This one goes to Ottawa. With the star power Pittsburgh has, it’s a bit like what they say about coaching Team Canada - just don’t screw it up and you’ll do well.

Callum: Can't say I know a tonne about Mike Sullivan, but I know Guy Boucher, and he's been a rock behind the Senators bench for two rounds in a row. Every week he gets more comfortable with the players and the players get more comfortable with him. Advantage Ottawa.

Colin: This is probably the toughest category, as both coaches have proven to be excellent so far these playoffs. Boucher and Sullivan are great at adapting their system to their opponents, so for me it comes down to lineup choices. Pittsburgh hasn't skipped a beat all playoffs, whereas some of Boucher's recent choices have been questionable. Sully gets the edge by a hair.

Peter: Pittsburgh. As much as I love #TheSystem, and as glad as I am about Ottawa's improving special teams, I still think Sullivan grabs the lead here--though maybe the fact that he has so many more options to choose from than Boucher has certainly makes his job easier.

Ross: Pittsburgh. Sullivan has figured out how to get the best from this roster. #TheSystem is good, but it hasn't been tested against a team like this yet.

Trevor: As much as we like Guy Boucher, Mike Sullivan won a Cup in his rookie season, and has put together another fantastic season so far. Penguins win 3/4 categories.

Decision: 5-3-0 Penguins

Poll

Which team has the better bench boss?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Ottawa
    (135 votes)
  • 38%
    Pittsburgh
    (118 votes)
  • 16%
    Tie
    (51 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now