Ottawa Senators versus Pittsburgh Penguins preview: line match-ups

A look at how Paul MacLean and Dan Bylsma might choose to utilise their players.

In the first round, we looked at how the Senators and Canadiens might match lines, so before we get to the second round, let's recap the first round to see how reality matched up with the predictions.

The first round recap is basically that we are awesome and you should listen to us. Now that we have some semblance of credibility, let's look at the Penguins.

(I managed to lose all my work at this point and had to start again, I will try to not sound bitter).

27 January 2013: Penguins 2 @ Senators 1 (shootout)
  • This was the closest Ottawa had to a healthy lineup this season with both Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson playing, but Jared Cowen was missing. This was also the only game that Daniel Alfredsson missed all season. The Senators have also since removed Jim O'Brien, Guillaume Latendresse, Kaspars Daugavins, Mark Borowiecki and Andre Benoit from the lineup. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cory Conacher, Mika Zibanejad and Eric Gryba have been some of the replacements.
  • Sidney Crosby was up against Karlsson and Methot for 75% of his ice time. Karlsson was a +10 on Corsi, Methot was +7, while Crosby was -9. Crosby did start nine times in the defensive zone and five times in the offensive zone.
  • Evgeni Malkin was up against Gonchar and Borowiecki 68% of the time. Gonchar was +11 on Corsi while Geno was -6. Ottawa as a team was +19 in this game.
  • The Brandon Sutter line played against Phillips/Benoit and the Zack Smith line.
  • Among forwards, Malkin faced the Spezza line (45%) while Crosby played the Turris line (58%). The matching wasn't as strong as with the defenceman though.
  • Unfortunately the Senators would lose in a shootout despite scoring twice. Craig Anderson was unable to make any saves in the shootout.
13 February 2013: Senators 2 @ Penguins 4
  • This was the game in which Erik Karlsson got injured late in the second period, so match-ups from this game were a bit messed up.
  • While Karlsson was on the ice, 59% of it was against the Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis line. Gonchar was on for about 50% of Malkin's ice time. As this was a road game, match-ups were a little tougher to obtain.
  • Karlsson/Methot again did a good job of contain Crosby, although he did score in the third period after Karlsson's injury, the Penguins captain was -6 on Corsi.
  • This was a 2-2 game after two periods and Ottawa held the edge in shots 23-20 and had dominated the second period. After the Karlsson injury, the Senators did not put forth much of an effort in the final period.
22 April 2013: Penguins 3 @ Senators 1
  • The Penguins didn't send Crosby, Malkin, James Neal, Paul Martin and Kris Letang to Ottawa for this game. The Senators didn't have Spezza or Erik Karlsson.
  • Ottawa dominated in shots, it was an even game in scoring chances, but Tomas Vokoun was better than Craig Anderson.
  • Not much to take from this game in terms of match-ups with so much talent from Pittsburgh's lineup missing.
  • Tl;dr: just tell me who is playing against who?
  • Judging by the first two games against Pittsburgh, the first round against Montreal, Paul MacLean's tendency to use Karlsson in offensive situations, it would be logical to include that Karlsson and Methot will get the duty of playing against player 87 on Pittsburgh.
  • By the same token, Gonchar and either Cowen or Phillips will be against the Malkin line.
  • The Turris line will probably play against Crosby, but on the road the line matching might not be as exaggerated.
  • Dan Bylsma uses Evgeni Malkin in offensive situations while Sidney Crosby is used in all situations. That Crosby is still able to dominate possession is just incredible. Crosby may be a douchebag, but he is a very talented one.
  • In albeit a very small sample, Ottawa has been able to neutralise Crosby this season. That however was done with a healthy Erik Karlsson who at the time was challenging Crosby for the best player in the world. It might prove to be a bit more difficult given Karlsson's condition at the moment.
  • Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik have been Pittsburgh's defensive blue line pairing. They played in defensive zone situations and against the John Tavares line in the first round. Tavares had five points and 21 shots in six games, so they weren't particularly great at it. This would leave the Mika Zibanejad line against Kris Letang much like in the first round where Zibanejad went up against P.K. Subban.
  • Jason Spezza's return would obviously change everything. MacLean will likely use Spezza in offensive situations which would match him against Orpik and Martin.
Note: All data is from Behind the Net, TimeOnIce and Left Wing Lock.

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