Friday, 21 April 2017

No Jackets Required

This is a personal post by all means, but I am thoroughly happy that the Penguins have ousted the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games. They await the winner of the Capitals and Maple Leafs, but the Penguins showed a lot of the same traits in this series that they did last season in winning the Stanley Cup. You heard commentators mention goaltending and special teams as key factors in this series, and the only difference in this series compared to last season is the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury put in a Matt Murray-like effort in these five games. The Penguins will now await the NHL's best team or the team that may surprise everyone in the opening round.

The Penguins used team speed, getting pucks to the net, and all of their supporting cast to get past the Blue Jackets when you consider that Jake Guentzel has been one of the best players on the ice. This is a team that hasn't had Chris Kunitz or Kris Letang in the opening round, yet they adapted well and made adjustments to advance just as they did when Trevor Daley went down in the playoffs last season. You can question this team's resiliency and supporting cast all you want, but they got incredible efforts from the aforementioned Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Ron Hainsey to complement the efforts from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.

The second-round match-up for the Penguins will probably be this year's most difficult series for the Penguins based on how the Capitals and Leafs are playing in their own series. While the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins are still lurking in these playoffs in the Atlantic Division, none of those teams should really scare the Penguins. It will be the Round Two series that may determine who represents the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final this season, and you probably already know who I'll be cheering for when this series begins next season.

Let's go, Pens!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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