In most sports, each playoff round is supposed to be harder. This will not be the case for Pittsburgh, who are decided favorites against Ottawa after knocking off Columbus and Washington.
Bookmaker has the defending Stanley Cup champions as -310 favorites and my guess virtually every sportsbook with be rooting for Ottawa based on the number of series wager that will be placed on the Penguins.
For those unfamiliar with Ottawa, you will hear the name Erik Karlsson a lot because he has been the single best player in the postseason. He literally is all over the ice and with his speed and smarts, he can fly down into the offensive end and still get back on defense in time to help his goaltender. Right now, the game has really slowed down for him.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson has been above average, however, most of his big saves have come in the third period or beyond, which is where he deserves credit. Ottawa’s defensive is designed to stall the opposing team in the neutral zone with 1-3-1 trap and force them to dump the puck into the corners. The vast majority of the time this worked versus the Bruins and Rangers, but Pittsburgh’s speed will test them.
For the Sens to compete, they will need the same kind of power play that scored six times in 12 tries against Pittsburgh in the regular season.
With what is at stake, it would seem the Penguins would understand the magnitude of their situation. Still, after huge series victories against the Blue Jackets and Capitals, Ottawa is not going to ignite Pittsburgh, even if they won two of three this season. (Home team won each contest.)