With the playoffs around the corner, the Pens have come to life. The firing of Therrien, trading Whitney,and the additions of Geurin and Kunitz seems to be the "missing links" to a team that was slumping less than a month ago.
With everyone on the same page now, the Penguins are actually making a run for the cup once again. They seem to be the team that we saw last season. Losing only two games in the first three rounds of the 07-08 playoffs and forcing the Red Wings to a game six.
Despite many injuries and much adversity this year, the Penguinscontinued to put up a fight. Unfortunately, they were fighting themselves most of the time. Lazy play in the defensive end, poor goaltending, and only Malkin, Crosby, and Sykora producing, it looked as if they were going to miss the playoffs.
So far this year, the Penguins have a 30-20-6 record against eastern conference teams. A 12-3-5 record against Atlantic division teams. Going into the playoffs with these numbers could mean an appearance in the finals again.
If the Pens face any of the teams that are currently beneath them in standings, they shouldn't have too much trouble advancing. Given they continue to play at the level they are playing at. However, if they were to meet up with the Devils, or the Bruins, it could be the end of the road.
Goals are coming from just about everyone on the Bruins roster. And Tim Thomas continues to put up stellar performances. If the Bruins can break their slump, and go into the playoffs as the same team they were just weeks ago, the cup could easily be theirs.
The Devils would be equally tough for the Pens to get past. The Devils seem to have become an all around team this year. Their not just stopping teams in the neutral zone anymore. Aside from playing the trap, their actually scoring goals now too.
In order for the Penguins to beat the Devils in the playoffs, they would have to use their speed and keep control of the game. Allowing the Devils to control the game would end the series very quickly.
Also, Fleury has to get his game back to where it was last season. No team can make it through the post season with shaky goal tending.
Other than the Bruins and the Devils, the only other team the Pens would really have trouble with would be the Capitals. The Capitals are just as fast and just as creative with the puck. I don't see this being much of a goalie match either. Fleury and Theodore both allow weak goals and give up leads way too much.
With this rivalry getting more intense with every game, and Ovechkin trying to prove he is the most dominant Russian born player in history, this would be an all out offensive showing.
I do believe though, this would bring out an even more determined and more skilled Evgeni Malkin, who is trying to prove that he is just as good if not better than Alex. I just think he is trying to prove it to Alex more than anyone else.
In my opinion, this would probably be the most entertaining match up in the playoffs. Speed, great passing, great goal scoring, good hitting, and no trap. That's hockey. The only thing that would be missing is great goaltending.