2013 Playoffs Round 2 Preview

The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs is in the books, eight teams have been sent packing to hit the links while eight teams remain to square off in the conference semi-finals. 

The first round did not disappoint hockey fans who have come to expect physical, fast, dramatic hockey in the playoffs and year after year they get just what they are expecting. 

One year after the Los Angeles Kings became the first eight seed ever to win the Stanley Cup both seven seeds and both six seeds have managed to advance to the semi-finals. The Eastern Conference Semi-final match-ups pit the Pittsburgh Penguins (1) against the Ottawa Senators (7) and the Boston Bruins (4) against the New York Rangers (6), while the Western Conference will feature the Chicago Blackhawks (1) who will try to hold off the Detroit Redwings (7) and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings (5) will face their fellow Californians, the San Jose Sharks (6).

Two series start today:

Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs Ottawa Senators (7)

The Penguins are coming off of a series that was a surprise to everyone in the hockey world. The Penguins faced an emerging New York Islanders, who burst into the playoffs with a stellar April performance, however the Penguins were expected to roll through in no more than four games. The Islanders had other plans and took the favorites to six games, including two overtime heartbreakers. The Islanders were a goaltender away from advancing to the next round. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

The Ottawa Senators were the seeding underdog however with key players returning from injury they never once looked the part as Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson led the Senators to a 4 - 1 series win over the struggling Montreal Candiens who never seemed to get off of there feet. 

 

Keys to the Series:

  Pittsburgh-

Pittsburgh needs to sort out their goalie situation. It is unclear who will start game one after Tomas Vokoun went 2-0 after starting in game five against the Islanders in place of a struggling Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins need to make sure that their top guns are firing on all cylinders and they must be ready to weather the storm that Ottawa is preparing to unleash on them.

 Ottawa-

Ottawa needs to focus on shrinking the ice around the Penguins stars. They need to play the speed game with Pittsburgh and limit the time and space that players like Malkin and Crosby have with the puck. The Senators need to make sure that they stay out of the box, the Penguins are deadly on the power play and often make teams pay for a lack of discipline. 

Key Players:

  Pittsburgh-

#88 Sidney Crosby - 3G 6A 9P (-1)
#58 Kris Letang - 2G 4A 6P (+3)
#29 Marc-Andre Fleury - 3.40 GAA 2W 2L .891SV% (still uncertain who will start game 1 but if it is Fleury he needs to be better than he was in round one of this year and last year.)

  Ottawa-

#11 Daniel Alfredsson - 2G 4A 6P (+5)
#65 Erik Karlsson - 1G 5A 6P (+5)
#41 Craig Anderson - 1.80 GAA 4W 1L .950SV%

Gm1- Tue. 5/14/13 - Ottawa @ Pittsburgh - 7:30pm - NBCSN, CBC, RDS

Gm2- Fri. 5/17/13 - Ottawa @ Pittsburgh - 7:30pm - NBCSN, CBC

Gm3- Sun. 5/19/13 - Pittsburgh @ Ottawa - 7:30pm - NBCSN, CBC, RDS 

Gm4- Wed. 5/22/13 - Pittsburgh @ Ottawa - 7:30pm - NBCSN, CBC, RDS

*Gm5- Fri. 5/22/13 - Ottawa @ Pittsburgh - 7:30pm - NBCSN, CBC, RDS

*Gm6- Sun. 5/24/13 - Pittsburgh @ Ottawa - TBD - CBC, RDS 

*Gm7- Tue. 5/28/13 - Ottawa @ Pittsburgh - TBD - CBC, RDS

Predicition: Ottawa in 6

Los Angeles Kings (5) vs San Jose Sharks (6)

The Sharks seemed to cruise through their first round match-up while causing more turmoil within the Vancouver Canucks organization. The Sharks only had to play four games to advance while the Kings did not have it as easy. Los Angeles faced a talented and gritty St. Louis Blues team and fell behind quickly two games to none in the first round.  Heading into game three at home the play and fortunes of the defending champions made a dramatic turn around and the Kings won four straight games to defeat the Blues 4 - 2. (Photo Credit: EventBrite)

 

Keys to the Series:

  Los Angeles-

Strike early. The Sharks are not a team the Kings can afford to go down 2-0 to like they did with St. Louis. The Kings have a knack for getting big performances when they need them and in this series it is imperative that these performances come early. The Kings need to maintain home ice advantage if they hope to win this series. Los Angeles is a blue collar hardworking team and they are going to have to rely on their physicality and their ability to outwork the Sharks to continue on to the next round.

  San Jose-

The Sharks are coming off of a longer rest period than the Kings and do not have the momentum of a comeback so they have to prepare and make sure they are ready to go. Just as it is important for the Kings to maintain home ice advantage the Sharks need to take the Los Angeles crowd out of the game as quickly as possible. Kings’ fans are loud and supportive and if the Sharks allow the Kings to feed off of their energy it could spell trouble. San Jose needs to rely on their skill and quickness and try to land a dagger in Los Angeles' heart early. 

Key Players:

  Los Angeles-

#10 Mike Richards - 0G 5A 5P (+2)
#08 Drew Doughty - 1G 2A 3P (-1)
#32 Jonathan Quick - 1.58 GAA 4W 1L 1OTL .944SV%

  San Jose-

#39 Logan Couture - 3G 5A 8P (-1)
#19 Joe Thornton - 1G 5A 6P (+3)
#31 Anti Niemi - 1.86 GAA 4W 0L .937SV%

Gm1- Tue. 5/14/13 - San Jose @ Los Angeles - 10pm - NBCSN, TSN

Gm2- Thu. 5/16/13 - San Jose @ Los Angeles - 10pm - NBCSN, TSN

Gm3- Sat. 5/18/13 - Los Angeles @ San Jose - 9pm - NBCSN, TSN

Gm4- Tue. 5/21/13 - Los Angeles @ San Jose - 10pm - NBCSN, TSN

*Gm5- Thu. 5/23/13 - San Jose @ Los Angeles - 10:30pm - NBCSN, TSN

*Gm6- Sun. 5/26/13 - Los Angeles @ San Jose - TBD - TSN

*Gm7- Tue. 5/28/13 - San Jose @ Los Angeles - TBD - TSN

Predicition: Los Angeles in 5

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the Boston - New York and Chicago - Detroit previews. 

* If Necessary 

 

-Shane Blackburn
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