You can debate which team has the most pressure heading into game 1 but there isn’t any denying who is better on paper. NHL analyst explains why the ‘total’ provides the best betting option.
Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators meet in the postseason, the fifth get together since 2007. The Penguins have won three straight series against the Sens with the last coming in 2013.
I expect this series to be physical considering both of these teams like to throw their weight around. Don’t mistake a tight-checking, defensive game with one where the focus is for both teams to impose their will. The latter forces more mistakes with more power play chances, a good recipe for ‘overs’.
Let’s not forget that there is some bad blood between these two other than playoff history.
In their last regular season meeting, Sidney Crosby decided to slash Marc Methot’s hand causing some horrific Twitter photos. Somehow it wasn’t a penalty despite the fact that Methot didn’t return for a couple weeks. Methot said it’s behind him but I know that deep down it wouldn’t hurt his feelings Erik Karlsson gave Sid a spear which is legal according to how the league calls penalties.
The Senators haven’t fared well in Pittsburgh where they’ve dropped nine of their last 10 meetings at PPG Paints Arena, including an 8-5 decision in their only regular season meeting, a game the Penguins scored six of the game's last seven goals.
The Pens have their own injuries to overcome, Kris Letang's absence was a big hole for the Pens against Washington. Defensive zone transition wasn’t as crisp as it is when Letang is on the ice. You saw the Capitals forecheck playing with more aggression because they felt as if Pittsburgh’s couldn’t beat them as easily with that first pass out of the zone as they had in the previous series.
Expect game one to feature a combined 65-70 shots along with plenty of special team chances making our NHL pick an ‘over’ at plus money.