Penguins - Senators Series Outlook

Penguins - Senators Series Outlook

Penguins - Senators Series Outlook
By Judd Hall

No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 7 Ottawa Senators

Series Price: Pittsburgh -320, Ottawa +240

Series Format: Pittsburgh, 2-2-1-1-1

Skinny: The Senators opened this year like a team on a mission by winning 22 of their first 33 games. Then Ottawa went on to 21 of its final 49 matches and was lucky the season ended when it did. The Sens closed out the regular season by dropping six of their last 8 contests, forcing them into the seventh position in the Eastern Conference.

Despite the lackluster finish to its year, Ottawa possesses one of the better offenses in the NHL. The Sens managed to light the lamp 258 times this season to lead the entire league in scoring offense. What makes it even more impressive is their top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza were all banged up for fair portions of the regular season.

Last year, the Sens got a great playoff performance out of Ray Emery. Now he’s warming the bench like no other as Martin Gerber was tabbed as the No. 1 netminder for Ottawa. Unfortunately, Gerber isn’t setting the world by going 3-5-1 in his final nine appearances with a 3.41 GAA, while stopping a pathetic 89 percent of the shots fired his way.

Pittsburgh has a surplus of goaltending on its hands with Marc-Andre Fleury and Ty Conklin. Fleury posted a 19-10-2 mark for the season, but won eight of his last 10 starts. Conklin gave Penguin fans reason to be happy after claiming an 18-8-5 record with a 2.51 GAA for the year.

The Penguins also have a trio of snipers with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa. Crosby’s ankle injury during for much of the New Year was actually beneficial to Malkin’s scoring ability. The young Russian scored 14 goals in 21 games without “Sid the Kid.” And Pittsburgh surged up the standing with its 11-6-4 mark in that time.

Gambling Notes: We already know that the Senators seem like the right team to fade to start the playoffs. Still, consider the ‘over’ for Ottawa on the road as it is 4-2-1 in the last seven games away from Canada’s Capital.

Pittsburgh’s totals have gone in the opposite direction, cashing the ‘under’ in six of its last seven matches.

As far as head-to-head tilts are concerned the ‘over’ 3-1 this year, with the road club posting the same record.

Outlook: I’ve heard a few people say that Ottawa has merely been playing dead in preparation for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But I’m also familiar with the term “when pigs fly.”

There is no doubting that the Senators have a great offense. However, their defense has been atrocious by all accounts for the second half of the season.

When you look at the other side of the ice, you see a Pittsburgh side that matches up evenly on offense. They also get the nod on goaltending and defense. However, the blue line could be a prickly situation for the Pens.

You’re getting great value by taking the Senators to win this rematch of a first round battle from last year. Unfortunately, it’ll just end up in tears for the bettors that decide to play for the upset.

I’m taking the Penguins in five games.

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