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Playoffs Tonight: Senators will challenge Penguins

May 14, 2013, 8:03 AM EDT

OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 22: Milan Michalek #9 of the Ottawa Senators attempts to get control of a rebound against Tomas Vokoun #92 of the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 22, 2013 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

The first round ended last night and we’re going to jump straight into the next round. If you want to see the full schedule, here it is.

Additionally, both of tonight’s series openers will be available online.

Game 1: Pittsburgh Penguins host Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

With defenseman Erik Karlsson back due to his Wolverine-like healing abilities, the Senators made surprisingly quick work of the second seed Montreal Canadiens. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson also did more than his fair share, posting a 1.80 GAA and .950 save percentage in five games.

Who the Pittsburgh Penguins counter Anderson with remains to be seen. Tomas Vokoun was the better goaltender in the first round, but the Penguins declined to name their starter for Game 1. Either way, goaltending is one area where Ottawa seems to have the edge.

The main question is if Anderson and the Senators will be able to contain the Penguins’ explosive offense. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin, and Kris Letang all averaged at least a point per game for Pittsburgh in the first round. Pittsburgh has legitimate threats to score on every line, which will make defending against them all the more difficult.

This will also Karlsson’s first game against Pittsburgh since the incident with Matt Cooke that threatened to end his season. Karlsson downplayed the reunion via Twitter, but there’s certainly some recent hard feelings between these two teams.

Game 1: Los Angeles Kings host San Jose Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

The defending Stanley Cup champions have made it past the first round and now they’ll take on the team that swept the Vancouver Canucks in four games.

Everyone on the Sharks seemed to click at the same time during the first round and when that happens, San Jose is very tough to beat. However, this will be the Sharks’ first game in a week and you have to wonder if that time off has killed their momentum.

Additionally, the Kings are likely going to be a lot more physical with the Sharks than the Canucks were.

“They’re a hard team,” Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart said. “They’re going to play hard, and every line is going to throw some physicality at you. They’re going to make it tough, and they don’t give you any ice for free, you’re going to have to work for it.”

One guy to keep an eye on from the Kings side is Dustin Brown. He was an offensive leader when the Kings won the Stanley Cup, but so far he has just a goal and an assist in six postseason games.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - May 14, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Oh I can’t wait! Just have to knockout 3 Finals today and then boom ill be ready for game time. I can see this series being close with a lot of one goal games quite possibly. Anderson is good but he been a career back up for most of his career. He’s beatable there’s no question there. I’m gonna go out and say that the Pens win in 6. LETS GO PENS!!

    • pens87 - May 14, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      Pens can win in 6 if their defense and goaltenders show up. The offense also needs to play more like game 1 and 5 more consistently. Anderson has been playing very well lately, certainly on a different level than Nabokov. Excited as well…get it done on the home ice!

  2. myspaceyourface - May 14, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    I’m really waiting for the day when the Pens come out and set the pace, rather than wait to catch up to the pace set by the other team.

  3. valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 14, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Vokoun should get the nod from coach Bylsma. Players know damn well that Fleury has been sub par, and if you’re the coach you don’t want your players playing with any doubts about the back stop. There is a time and place for everything, and now is Vokoun’s time. The net is his to lose.

    • hockeydon10 - May 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      Somehow I doubt they do that. Fleury was a #1 overall pick. He was given a big fat contract. He’ll start in net for this series. He’ll be outplayed by Anderson.

      • basedrum777 - May 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Vokoun to start.

      • hockeydon10 - May 14, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        Aaaaaaand of course they come out and name Vokoun the starter for tonight shortly after I said this. Derp.

  4. sens101 - May 14, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    Hoping the sens put the physical beat down on the vulnerable Pens D and force turnovers. Gonna be tough to stop that Pens offense, but have faith in the best defensive team in the league! Go Sens!!!!! Get the split!!!!!

    • islesjb - May 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Pens are beatable- especially with solid goaltending/defense. You know who I’ll be rooting for


      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - May 14, 2013 at 8:54 AM

        The person driving the food and beverage cart by the 14th tee?

      • islesjb - May 14, 2013 at 8:59 AM

        nope- the Senators. Rooting for a concession worker would be strange

      • laxman1944 - May 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM

        Should be a nasty series…….looking forward to watching them beat the living sh*t out of each other.

    • hockeywithdrawal - May 14, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      That’s actually a good point (the OTT D)…Ottawa was second in the league in goals against/game, but if you look at SHOTS per game, they were way down at 23rd. I’m hoping the Pens team that gets 40 shots per game shows up, not the one that gets 17 per game.

      As for physical play – I LOVED the stare-down between Neil and Crankshaft last game – hope for more of the same.

      • laxman1944 - May 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        Neil was a force the last series….it appears he has a lot more to his game than thuggery

      • dirt2013 - May 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        The number of shots means far less to me than the number of shots that hit the net.

        I doubt the Pens back down from the Sens perceived advantage of size and hitting.

  5. steelpenbucs87 - May 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    I like the Pens in this series – 6 games is my guess.

    The Senators pose serious concerns to the Penguins, however I don’t know that those concerns are specifically to the Pens per se – great goaltending, solid defense, and an opportunistic offense would have any opponent on edge.

    I think in general this match-up will be won on the backs of those outside the top 6 of each team. The Malkin and Crosby lines will get a lot of the defensive attention from the Sens, and you can also bet that that the top two lines from Ottawa will be seeing quite a bit of Martin and Letang’s pairings. So to me its going to come down to who on the 3rd and 4th lines can chip in and get some offense against the weaker defensive pairings of the opponents. I like Morrow to bounce back against a team that’s more his style.

  6. jpelle82 - May 14, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    hope to see engelland or eaton in instead of despres. i have a feeling the pens will need the toughness for game 1. not saying despres isnt tough but he isnt as experienced i guess, just dont have that much confidence in him in what i think will be a different game than the islanders brought. kassian, smith, neil, are all gonna come out hard, dont want the pens to get pushed around or un-prepared for it at least. d men need to be ready to get hit

    • zico25 - May 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Eng was practicing in Depres’ place yesterday. So there you go.

  7. pitpenguinsrulez - May 14, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    You must care since your the only one who brought it up…no else did just starting the obvious pal

  8. pdmjr - May 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Pens finally have Crosby back for this series. Look out

    • islesjb - May 14, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      he was back for the entire first round except for game #1

    • jpelle82 - May 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      he had 9 pts in 5 games vs islanders…he’s definitely been back

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