Around this time last year, the Ottawa Senators were starting their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in a dominating fashion over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One year later, those "Baby Pens" have turned the tables and put a four-game beat-down on the Senators.
In every aspect of the game, the Penguins dominated their opponent. They out-shot, out-hit, and outmatched the Senators.
Injuries like the one to Captain Daniel Alfredsson, ineffective play by center Jason Spezza, and the "deer in the head lights" play of goalie Martin Gerber, was too much to overcome for the Senators.
They were so outmatched. The Penguins scored more goals on power plays than the Senators scored in the entire series. Their frustration was evident as they helped the Penguins set the record for most power play opportunities in a single series.
Keep in mind now, they only played four games.
Every time it seemed like the Senators would gain some momentum, the Penguins came roaring back to make sure the Sens could see no daylight. The Senators led in the series for only four minutes and 28 seconds.
It was that same bully-like fashion in which the Senators beat on the Penguins last year. Only instead of physically and emotionally beating on them, the Penguins used their talented sticks.
The Penguins had their entire team in on the beat down. Evgeni Malkin led the way early with two goals and five assists in the playoffs.
But lo and behold, when it came to the end of the series, it was Sidney Crosby on top with eight total points.
Gary Roberts made a statement in the first game by scoring twice and putting some physical hits on the Senators. Ryan Malone continued his career year with a couple of goals and three assists.
Sharp shooting forward Petr Sykora scored three goals as a key part of the productive two-line.
Marian Hossa only scored once, but he put pressure on Gerber that led to goals from other players. He led the Penguins in shots on goal with 24.
Perhaps the biggest maturation of them all came with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury took every shot in stride and saved 95 percent of all shots against him. If the Penguins can continue to ride his hot play, they will go far into these playoffs.
It just goes to show you what a year of experience will do for a talented team like the Penguins. No more physical and emotional beat-downs against Pittsburgh, not for a long time.
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