There's a couple-three reasons I posted the "preview" you see below, rather than something more informed. 1) I was dead tired. Unlike some of our Anonymous Friends, I have a day job that's actually rather demanding. 2) As always, my first goal is to amuse. Now granted, probably due to reason 1, I probably failed in that. But while it may not have been that funny, or as good as Sherry's (which is true, I should add), I did take slight umbrage to Quasi-Anonymous Penguins Fan's (um...still kinda anonymous there, Sport) outright dismissal of it without actually reading it. Then again, nothing about that should surprise me. Which leads me to the main reason for waiting until today.
I took a gander at The Pensblog last night and I saw this: "Tomorrow, we'll link every playoff preview we can find". Crap. With visions of a second wave of grammatically challenged, caps-locking, spell-check deprived knuckle draggers invading my comment section overnight, I decided that I'd wait until Game Day to actually put one up. I figured this way, at the very least, by the time the more...um..."passionate" Penguins fans noticed it and re-discovered their opposable thumbs, we would have gotten Game 1 out of the way, and with it, a better feel for how this series is going to go. That said, I cringe at the thought of what will happen if we lose, and lose badly tonight. But that's a worry for another day. For now, here's your real preview folks. Do with it what you will:
On paper, we have no chance. We're short Alfie, Fish and our best defensive forward, Chris Kelly. We have two raw rookies in Cody Bass and Spawn of Mike in the lineup. Conventional wisdom holds that Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Malone and especially Gary Fucking Roberts will mop the floor with us. But that's on paper. I've told anyone who's asked me (and a few who haven't) that nothing has changed from our meeting last year. Hit them. Hard. Then hit them again. Instead of fearing the fact that two rookies are starting for us, use it. Bass is a big boy who likes him some contact. Spawn of Mike has some good hands and a knack for finding the quiet spots in the zone. How amped do you think they'll be? Use that. Sure, the margin of error is razor thin, but it's not the end of the world folks.
Edge: Penguins, but it's not as big as they think it is.
This is where the "on paper" equation gets turned on its head. On paper, we should have an enormous edge here. To stay with my earlier theme, Phillips is the rock and A-Train is the hard place between which the Crosby-Malkin-Hossa line will find themselves. That's a given. But whether we keep our "paper" edge here, depends on the other four. If Reds and Mesz can finally put their inexplicable and really fucking maddening regular season habits behind them and start playing the way they can and have in the past, we have a chance. Lee, a rookie in name only, has looked fantastic in the few games he's played for us. Let's see how he handles the playoff pressure. Really, what do we have to lose? And Commodore, aside from finally (hopefully) starting to feel more comfortable in the system we're playing, should be able to use his considerable hitting skills to greater advantage than he did in the regular season. After all, playoff games aren't officiated quite the same, are they (King Gary's clueless protestations to the contrary notwithstanding).
Edge: Ottawa...but only if NOs 6 and 14 pull their heads out of their asses.
It always comes down to these flaky bastards, doesn't it? MAF has the better regular season numbers, no question. But again, the Playoffs are an entirely different animal, and historically, he hasn't done all that well. Whether we win or lose this series will depend, in its entirety, on which Gerber shows up, starting tonight. If it's the constantly out of position, rebound loving Swiss Pastry, we might as well just pack it in now. If Darth Gerber, he of the flawless positioning and the cool head that ran off a 13 game win streak in the first two months of the season, well...I like them odds. And if all else fails (and it pains me to say this...really), there's always Razor. He should have a big enough chip on his shoulder by now to give us at least two or three quality games.
Silly gamesmanship notwithstanding, Bryan Murray is the better coach. No, really! By the time he got back behind the bench, the damage from Teflon's Reign of Error was too much to fix with so little time left in the regular season, and I'd argue that had it not been for The Bryan, we would have missed the playoffs entirely, given the injuries and absolute lack of confidence the players had in themselves. A master manipulator, he should have no problems convincing the boys that they should probably start listening to him, now that everything is on the line. There's a reason he has 600 plus victories to his record. As for Michel Therrien...um...I'm sure he's a nice guy, but how hard can it be tapping Crosby, Malkin and Hossa on the back every third shift?
The longer this series goes, the better the odds. Chris Kelly is close to coming back (rumour has it by Saturday) and as for Alfie and Fish...well late season "decimating injuries" that will take "weeks!" to heal sometimes find themselves miraculously cured when the puck drops for real. Now, I'm not fooling myself into thinking that this is going to be the cake walk it was last year. Our D and goaltending is way too shaky for that. But holy shit, listening to the talking heads and reading the MSM, you'd think we might as well just give up now. Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm certainly not going to immediately prostrate myself at the feet of the Pittsburgh Penguins and worship them as some sort of invincible gods. They're human. They're still kids. And they're eminently beatable. That's why we play the games.
Slightly revised pick: Sens in 7.
Bring it bitches. Let's do this thing