Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playoff Game #1 - vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Playoff Game 1
Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

Last year at this time, the Pens were preparing to face the Ottawa Senators, and Kovalev was on their roster (though he was hurt). One year later and they're back in the same spot, but facing a much different opponent.

The Lightning are an interesting opponent - one that will be tough for the Pens to stop. Earlier in the year, it was all about Stamkos and St. Louis, but since the All-Star break, Lecavalier has 17 goals in 30 games, while Gagne has 27 points in 31 games and is a +7. Stamkos has been struggling over the last 30 games or so, and both he and St. Louis are minus players over that span.

That being said, for me the key to winning this series is controlling St. Louis. He's the heart of the Lightning and always seems to torture the Pens. His chemistry with Lecavalier and Stamkos will almost single-handedly determine if they can beat the Pens. The other top guys will be a headache too (Gagne, Malone, Purcell and Moore).

The defense for the Bolts is better than you think, but isn't up to the caliber of the Pens' D. They also don't have a true offensive threat from the blue line (Brett Clark is as close as they come). I think this is an area the Pens can exploit. Sag off of these guys and blanket the forwards, because the D for the Bolts really doesn't shoot much.

For Game 1, the Pens just need to keep it simple. Get the puck deep and keep it there. Establish something to build on as the series goes forward.

Above all else, don't try to do too much just because this is the playoffs.

Let's Go Pens!

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