Series preview: Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (7)

The Penguins have an embarrassment of offensives riches, including four of the top seven scorers after the first round.

Series preview: Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (7)
Milan Michalek (L) and Marc Methot (R) have fun battling for the puck as the Ottawa Senators practice at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, prior to playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the NHL's Eastern Conference semi-final. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

STRENGTHS

Penguins

The Penguins have an embarrassment of offensives riches, including four of the top seven scorers after the first round: Evgeni Malkin (two goals, 11 points), Jarome Iginla (two goals, nine points), Pascal Dupuis (five goals, seven points), and Sidney Crosby (three goals, nine points).

Add Chris Kunitz and James Neal to the mix and it’s a king-sized headache.

Senators

This might be the best group of defencemen the Senators have had in the modern area. It is mobile, agile, and hostile, led by Marc Methot (6-foot-3, 231 pounds), Jared Cowen (6-foot-5, 230 pounds), Chris Phillips (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) and Eric Gryba (6-foot-4, 222 pounds).

Erik Karlsson won’t be hitting anything, of course, but provides the offensive engine with help from Sergei Gonchar, who is playing his best hockey as a Senator.

The defence keyed the first-round victory by punishing Montreal’s forwards. They’ll have a tougher task here.

WEAKNESSES

Penguins

In goal, the Penguins are in flux.

After Marc-Andre Fleury went 2-2-1 with a 3.40 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage in the first round, he was yanked for Tomas Vokoun, who won the last two games and posted a goals-against average of 1.41 and .957.

It’ll make for some fancy juggling by coach Dan Bylsma if Vokoun doesn’t keep it up.

Senators

The Senators averaged four goals per game in the first round. Only the Penguins were better at 4.17. But the Senators aren’t fooling themselves.

Their scoring is done by committee. They could use Jason Spezza as their No. 1 centre, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be back before Game 3 at the earliest.

The Senators also need to have better starts to take the early pressure off Anderson. It could be argued they only had one strong start against the Canadiens.

As well, the Senators will have to be disciplined. In the first round, they averaged 32.4 minutes in penalties per game, the second-highest after the Canadiens.

For the Penguins to win

They’ll have to find a way to solve Anderson, who stymied the Canadiens.

Their special teams will also have to continue playing well.

Against the Islanders, The Penguins had seven power-play goals in 21 opportunities, while allowing just two shorthanded goals.

They will have to find it in themselves to be as disciplined as the Senators. In the first round, they were the fourth-most penalized team at 18.7 minutes per game.

For the Senators to win

Anderson has to stay sharp, which will be a challenge against the Penguins. With a goals-against average of 1.80 and a save percentage of .950 in the first round, he’s setting himself up as a potential Conn Smythe candidate.

But the Penguins are a more dynamic offensive team than the Canadiens.

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