The Penguins have dispatched the Flyers and now await knowing who their second round opponent we be. We know it will be either the Washington Capitals (...again) or the Columbus Blue Jackets, but not exactly the who or when yet. The Caps have the advantage of being up 3 games to 2 and could close out as soon as tonight.
Boston/Toronto is also tonight and since the NHL waits until all series are over, it would seem like a Friday/Saturday start for the Pens if either WSH/CBJ or BOS/TOR has to go to 7 games. If both series end tonight, the door could be open for a Thursday start.
Guess we better do this today, in case the Caps clinch and end the question before it starts...
Columbus Blue Jackets
Why the Pens should want to face them: The next time Columbus gives up less than 3 goals in a playoff game it will be the first. The Pens also went 4-0-0 against CBJ in the regular season, scoring a total of 18 goals along the way and having a 50% power play (6 for 12). Getting Columbus also means 2 more days of rest, since it means the series won’t end until Wednesday night, and it would mean home-ice advantage for the Pens (the NHL’s best home team in the regular season).
Also, you think these lines (from Left Wing Lock) are going to beat the back-to-back defending champs at least 4 of 7 times? I see about 2 really good forwards, 2-3 serviceable forwards and 2 really good defensemen and then an island of misfit toys.
Why the Pens should not want to face them: If the Jackets can make it to the 2nd round, they’ll have to win two straight games to get there. We all know CBJ has been a very streaky team capable of playing very well when confident, and if they are able to climb out of a 3 games to 2 hole to be able and win their first franchise playoff series they ought to be a confident team.
Also, one of their aforementioned “really good players” is Artemi Panarin, who has feasted on the Pens scoring 4 goals and 3 assists in the 4 game season-series this year. Not seeing “the breadman” wouldn’t be a bad thing for Matt Murray and the defense. Panarin also had 2g+5a in 5 games in the playoffs so far.
Why the Pens should want to face them: Uhh, it’s the Caps. It’s the playoffs. Do we really need any more of a reason to want Crosby vs. Ovi Round IV this year? There’s little evidence it should end any differently than the first three series with the Pens moving on a round and the Caps left wondering what went wrong again.
If you do need more, Washington is a bit beaten up now; Andre Burakovsky has been out since Game 2 and many believe TJ Oshie is banged up as well (though he continues to score goals during the games). The Caps don’t have the depth they did last season and they’re still thin defensively, meaning the Pens 2nd and 3rd lines should feast again on lower-end players that litter the Caps middle lines and bottom pairings.
Why the Pens should not want to face them: Because lightning can only strike so many times? Because maybe since the Caps were favored on paper in 2017 and lost, the tables would be turned in 2018 with the Pens favored?
Also, Braden Holtby (3-1, .936 save%, 1.66 GAA) has been very solid since re-gaining his net. There’s a likelihood he could be the best goalie the Pens would see all playoffs with numbers like that and a hot/good goalie is always a threat. The Caps would also have home-ice advantage on the Pens to start the series and Pittsburgh has been among the worst road teams in the league in the regular season. (Though they did just go 3-0 in Philly in the playoffs, so....)
Which team do you hope the Penguins draw in the 2nd round as an easier team to defeat?
This poll is closed
Columbus Blue Jackets