Nice job from all of the experts on here picking the Sens.
The Sens did not play very well down the stretch. They looked like they were going to fall out of the playoffs. They have limited scoring and nobody up front capable of being relied upon to score when they need it. Their D is big, but I can guarantee you that the Habs forwards did not pressure them the way they will be pressured by our forwards. The top two lines are now as they should have been from Game 1 of Crosby's return. Letang is better all around than Karllson. Their victory over the Habs was a gift from a weakened Montreal team that most likely would not have made the playoffs had there been a 82 game season. Price not only stunk in the playoffs, but down the stretch as well.
The Pens will pressure the Sens D and hit them. Their bigger D are not all that mobile. We hit Chara and we will hit them without fear. The Pens will possess the puck more than against the Isles. They will not be beaten by the young forwards the Sens now rely on of necessity.
Pens will win this in 5 or 6, not because I want them to, but because some of the experts on here continually ignore the psychology of this beautiful sport and focus on Xs and Os. The Pens will win because they are better at every position from the neck up, and our talent will negate their biggest perceived advantage in goal. That will be the series in simple terms. We will cut Sampson's hair when we beat their bald goalie.
These same experts point to all of the shots the Isles got, the fact that the Isles got the Pens to turn pucks over, etc. I would point to the fact that the Pens responded in almost every instance to a key Isles score with one of their own. I would point to the fact that they never allowed the Isles to get a back breaker. That they won in a very hostile environment with their A game when it counted, after hanging in there with their B game.
It was a great tune up. It proved to me and most-likely to themselves that they were resilient and mentally strong. That doesn't need to come from a sweep where we dominated for all 12 periods. Last year was an anomoly. I know the Kings only lost a few games last year en route to their Cup - but that is far from normal.
The Pens will need a short series somewhere along the way no doubt, but I am proud of the way they responded to a very game Isles team despite having to replace their "franchise" goalie.
Playoffs are like heavyweight fights. You don't have to win every round. Sometimes the challenger who is picked as a "tune up" proves to be more than expected. Bully fighters who are favored crumble when they get punched back. This team, all year, fought adversity and showed it could take a punch. Fleury punched them in the face. The Isles rained punches on them right and left. Their cut man was busy in their corner, but when the Final bell rang they found enough to put the Isles down, down on points on all cards last night. They also have several 10-8 rounds in the series though as well - and they never had to get up off the canvas - possubly being staggared in Game 4 but not down.