Gameday Conference Semifinals #2: v. Ottawa Senators



Consol Energy Center, NBC Sports, CBC, RDS, 105.9 the X

Well guess what? It’s Game 2, again, and we all know what happened the last time the Penguins played a Game 2 in the playoffs coming off of a very dominant Game 1. But there is reason to believe that things will be different this time: we have talked often about how the Penguins just match up better against the Senators and yesterday James Conley, the man in charge over at Slew Footers, delivered an in-depth examination of the matchups on the Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

But you can rest assured that the Senators are going to be in full-on pushback mode tonight. What choice do they have? The most alarming statistic from Tuesday’s game is the hits totals: the Pens recorded 40 hits while the Sens only managed 26, that is a pretty pathetic total. The Senators are planning to lay a lot more hits and they are making one fundamental lineup change to make that happen: Guillaume Latendresse will be in the lineup, probably skating with Chris Neil. Latendresse is an enigma, looking at his stats it looks like he played some really quality third line hockey for the first four years of his career. Signed a new deal with Minnesota where he played one breakout season, scoring 25 goals, and then fell off the face of the Earth, so much so that he isn’t even a full-time player with the Senators now. I can’t profess to know what his history is, but if he’s counted on to make a difference in the hitting department he must not have been injured. One good thing about playing Latendresse is that his 35 PIMs in 14 playoff games suggest that he could give the Pens an opportunity to succeed on the PP, which is obviously really good. Eric Gryba is hurt from that unreal hit that Brooks Orpik levelled against him so instead Andre Benoit will join the Sens’ defensive corps. Don’t know what that means or why it should matter.

Zero lineup changes are expected for the Pens tonight, at least according to the morning skate line rushes. That’s unfortunate because anybody would have been better than Deryk Engelland.

The most compelling story for us tonight is that this will be Tomas Vokoun’s fourth start. After this you can’t say he’s not the starter. So presumably, if he plays well, the Pens will have a new starter, if he doesn’t, well that’s when things get really interesting. Certainly, there is only one thing we’ve come to expect from Voki: he’ll play the game to the best of his ability and that’s typically pretty good, but who knows, things are so peaceful with the team right now maybe the hockey gods will decide to make life for Penguins fans less wonderful again.

We’ll see if the Pens have learned anything about not letting their feet off the throats of an inferior opponent.

The race to one starts tonight. Go Pens.


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