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14 April 2009

Here We Go Pens!

The playoffs are here! This is my favorite time of the year. I even love it more than football playoffs time. I love it more than baseball playoff time as well. I mean seriously, when I watch the NFL playoffs, the teams step it up a notch, and it is very exciting. I watch the MLB playoffs, the catches are more spectacular, but that's it. In the NHL, the teams step it up like six notches, and it is fantastic. The game gets ten times faster and even harder hitting. The saves by the goalies seem that much more dramatic. I love it. To top off the whole thing, it is almost every day for six weeks or so. You simply can't beat it.

The Penguins are once again playing the Flyers, our most hated rival. I remember last year when we beat them handily in five games, the commentators believed that there would be blood, but there really wasn't. I don't know if it was because Georges Laraque was too much of a gentleman or we just beat them too quickly, but there wasn't. We had hard hitting and that, but it wasn't what I expected. I am going to pull a paragraph out of the last blog I did about the playoffs concerning the Flyers specifically.

"The Philadelphia Flyers, our most heated rivalry other than the Washington Capitals. I don't know who we love to hate more sometimes. We have faced Philadelphia four time in the playoffs, losing the first three. Last year, we won our revenge. We lost in 1988-89 in the second round in seven games. We were destroyed in the last two games of that series with a combined score of 10-3. We wouldn't have to face them again until the 1996-97 season where we lost four games to one. In that series, we went down three games to none right away, only to win a 4-1 decision at home. We then lost the series in game five 6-3. We would then face the Flyers three years later in 1999-00, where we lost again four games to two. This was a key series that fueled the fire between us and them. We went up two games to none before coming back home only to lose in overtime. The very next game turned out to be historic, lasting five overtimes only to end badly for the Pens when Keith Primeau scored to win it. We never recovered from that and lost the series. We finally solved this playoff debacle last year with an easy four games to one. This was the most recent run at the Stanley Cup." 10-APR-2009

In that last post about the playoffs, I was pretty positive that there was no way that we were going to finish in fourth. As it turns out, the Flyers and the Hurricanes turtle shelled. I don't believe that the Flyers did it on purpose due to the fact that they lost home ice advantage as well as have to play us. The Canes had a good reason to drop the last couple games, they are playing the slumping New Jersey Devils. Now, I am not saying they did something as unsportsmanlike as that, but it sure looks that way.

I love how the commentators and major writers all feel it is necessary to start writing when the playoffs begin. It seems like they know absolutely nothing, just what others have been writing. I have been reading a lot and find in mildly humorous that people don't realize that the stats before coach Bylsma don't reflect on how the team is playing now. I just read on NHL.com that the Pens need to be more responsible in their own end because of their season average of 30.3 shots per game. I wish they could have watched the Pens all season and realized that it was the staff from before that allowed a majority of the high shot totals and Bylsma's regime has brought that number down. I believe that the commentators will realize that we are more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. We are a complete team.

Now, onto the season series, we won it 4 games to two. I will honestly say we didn't look dominant at any time against this team. It is like they have the ability to bring us out of our game just because of our utter hatred for each other. The only good part is that it takes them out of their game as well. The team that can work past this will win out. I feel that Coach Bylsma will have that emotional button well within his control for his first playoff series. I also think that this is the best team we could possibly play for the first round with Bylsma. What I mean by this is that it will have everything in it, raw skill, courage, emotion, and speed. It will give him a taste of everything so he can be ready for the rounds ahead.

I was looking at all the statistics for the season between these two teams and although they look completely even, they aren't. I believe aside from the power play, which the Flyers win out easily, we dominate every other aspect of the game now. What I mean by now is that with the new confidence and coaching style, we almost fixed our season stats. They were horrible before and we improved so much that it makes us look even. This just tells me that the way we are capable of playing now is so significantly better that if we would have been able to play a majority of the season like this, we would have been in first in the east and dominated the stats sheets.

I want to compare my preseason predictions to the actual standings:

I guess I wasn't that far off!

I like our odds of going deep, but I am not going to talk about that. It is time to stop shaving and get intense!

Pens will win this series in six!
Let's Go Pens!

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