So I was wrong. And others were right about Washington. The Capitals are picking up the pieces from yet another disappointing season, while the Penguins and Senators will play in the Eastern Conference Final, where the Senators can beat the Penguins. At least I had Ottawa moving on.
But here’s the thing – everyone is picking the Pens to return to the Stanley Cup Final. Me? Not so much. The Penguins are definitely a flawed team, that’s for sure. They have injuries and they can be beaten by a team with superior will to win. I believe, at least for this season, that the Sens are this team. Why? Read on, folks.
3 Reasons Why the Senators can Beat the Penguins
1. Craig Anderson
When he has needed to make the key save in a pivotal moment Craig Anderson has been there. The Sens have had this bend but don’t break defensive posture for the entire postseason. They haven’t racked up shutouts, but they have bared down and not given in when they couldn’t afford to give up one more goal. Anderson, in a season where he’s had so much personal turmoil, is locked in right now. And I am not going to bet against him.
2. Erik Karlsson
The Penguins have played two great teams. But they have not played a team that had an offensive defenseman like Erik Karlsson. The Blue Jackets had Werenski (before he was hurt) and the Capitals had Carlson. But neither of them are as dynamic or as dominant as Karlsson. His vision, playmaking ability, clutch play and finishing skills are simply not to be stopped right now. Pittsburgh’s answer is Kristopher Letang, who is injured and out. Up front, who on the Pens can shadow Karlsson? Who? This will be fun to watch.
3. Wave of emotion
From Anderson playing while his wife battles cancer, to Clarke MacArthur returning after over 500 away due to concussions, from home playoff attendance controversy to third liner Jean-Gabriel Pageau scoring four goals in a game – this team is charmed right now. They are riding the underdog status deep in the playoffs, with no sign of slowing down. Sure, the Penguins have more firepower than the Sens have faced so far. But Ottawa has a lot of to-way players who are willing to sacrifice. There’s a destiny feel about Ottawa, and I am on the bandwagon.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.