By Shane Darrow on April 15, 2014
The Pittsburgh Penguins are 5-0-0 this season against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that doesn't mean that the Blue Jackets are going to roll over and play dead in the first round. Here are five ways the Penguins can be sure to avoid being upset.
The Penguins led the NHL in total man-games lost to injury this season, but they are finally getting healthy at the right time. Evgeni Malkin, Joe Vitale, Kris Letang and Beau Bennett are just a handful of guys who appear to be getting over injuries right before the postseason begins. If the Pens can stay healthy, they'll most likely survive their first round meeting with Columbus.
Marc-Andre Fleury has once again had a solid regular season, but the past two seasons he has been a main reason for the Penguins' demise. Two years ago, he allowed 26 goals in only six games, and last year he was replaced by Tomas Vokoun for the remainder of the playoffs after struggling through the first five games of the postseason.
All the pressure in this series is on the Penguins. The fact that they're supposed to win adds even more pressure than what's already on the table during playoff hockey. If they drop Game 1 or are struggling to score goals early, they cannot get frustrated with themselves. If they keep their cool and roll with the punches, the Penguins will be fine.
Now that the Penguins are healthy, their power play, which is still statistically the best in the NHL, can get back to producing around 25 percent of the time. Their first unit looks like an All-Star team, which gives them no excuse if they can't find a way to convert against a Blue Jackets penalty kill unit that was ranked 14th in the NHL during the regular season.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin need to be great throughout the playoffs if they want to go on to win it all, but that isn't going to be enough. The Penguins have struggled to find secondary scoring all season and that could lead to problems quickly. Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Tanner Glass need to find a way to get into the mix if the Penguins want to be successful.
December 26, 2014 by PowerPlayCJ
The Los Angeles Kings have been one of the best teams in the NHL in recent years, and GM Dean Lombardi's shrewd transactions are a huge reason why. Read More
Despite being one of the younger players on the team, defenseman Brandon Carlo will be a big part of Team USA's success at the World Junior Championships. Read More
December 26, 2014 by Lissa Albert
The AHL has cut down on the number of shootouts by instituting a new overtime format. Should this new rule be adopted by the NHL? Read More
December 24, 2014 by Shaun Lavery
The Calgary Flames have shown flashes of both brilliance and the ability to lose games. They are a young team with plenty to improve upon. Here are five things they need to work on for the New Year. Read More
December 23, 2014 by Shaun Lavery
The Calgary Flames had a rough go of things in December. After finally snapping an eight-game skid against the Kings, Calgary needs to carry that momentum into the new year. Read More
December 23, 2014 by Nick Villano
The New Jersey Devils' season has been derailed by having less than stellar lineups on the ice on a nightly basis. Read More
December 23, 2014 by Lissa Albert
The Montreal Canadiens are on a five-game road trip over the holiday, with their first stop in New York where they face the red-hot Islanders. Which team has the upper hand? Read More
Alex Galchenyuk might have been slotted into the top-line center position as a result of a teammate's injury, but he should definitely be kept where he is. Read More
December 23, 2014 by Dominic Lancella
The New York Rangers are hot right now, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. Here are five Rangers who need to step it up in 2015. Read More
December 23, 2014 by PowerPlayCJ
As the Boston Bruins look for help to end their season-long funk, targeting T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues wouldn't make sense for any party involved. Read More
Despite being the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings still need more production from certain big-name players if they wish to repeat as champions. Read More
December 22, 2014 by Stephen Wyatt
The Carolina Hurricanes were moved from Hartford despite a loyal Whalers fanbase which the Hurricanes now lack. Read More