Thursday, May 25, 2017

Seventh Heaven

There's nothing like a game 7, especially with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line.  For the Ottawa Senators, a win would mark only the second time in franchise history they would play for the Stanley Cup.  If the Pittsburgh Penguins win, they would be the first time since 2008 and 2009 when these very same Penguins went back to back finals, losing in '08 to Detroit, then beating them a year later.  There are still a number of players from those teams including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fluery, and Chris Kunitz. Defenceman, Kris Letang was also part of those team, but hasn't played since Feb. 21 with an injury.

The last time there was a repeat champion was in 1997 and 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings captured their second and third titles in the team's modern day dynasty that began with their '97 win and ended with the 2008 Cup, beating Philadelphia and Washington, respectively.

The numbers don't favour the Senators going into game 7.  They have never won, going
0-5, including a 3-2 loss in the 2003 Eastern Conference Final.  The latest was in 2012 when the New York Rangers bested them in the first round.

Pittsburgh needed a deciding game 7, on the road, to get past the Washington Capitals to reach the Conference Final.  So, they know the feeling of the pressure of a do or die situation.

However, the numbers might not favour the Penguins, either.  They have failed to win a game 7 at home after losing game 6 on the road since 1975.  Again, the Rangers provided the foil in defeating the Penguins in the second round in 2014.

Does any of those numbers mean anything?  Probably not.  At least not before the puck drops, but afterwards, those numbers will surely be used as a talking point in evaluating the game.

The Senators will win because Craig Anderson stands on his head again like he did in game 6.  He struggled in games 3 and 4 against the Rangers in the second round, before rebounding in the final two games.  That could play out again and the Senators certainly need him, too.  The offence will meek out just enough goals to beat Pittsburgh.

The Penguins will win because they have the best player in the game right now playing up to that title.  If Sidney Crosby continues to get open as often as he seem to in game 6, he will eventually bury one of those chances.

They also have the leading scoring in these playoffs in Evgeni Malkin who has 7 goals and 17 assists with Crosby sitting in third on the list.

Whoever wins, the only thing I would like to see is a great game, with the real winners being all the fans tuning in.

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