Penguins Go In As 'Favourites' As 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

Penguins Go In As 'Favourites' As 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

Penguins Go In As 'Favourites' As 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

Hopes are high in the Washington Capitals outlasted a stacked Metro Division to take the top spot, but Rocket Richard Trophy victor Alex Ovechkin and his Washington cohorts drew a tough Columbus Blue Jackets team that enters the playoffs after finishing the regular season on a 10-2-2 run.

"We know it's going to be a tough challenge; they're a good hockey team", Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. Pittsburgh received goals from five different players with Crosby, Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin all finding the back of the net.

Pittsburgh's big move at the trade deadline was to bring in Derick Brassard from Ottawa to center the third line. More importantly, the team has a healthy Kris Letang once again.

The Penguins are 6-1 in their last seven meetings versus the Flyers in Pittsburgh. Going down two games would require them to take down the reigning champions four times in nine days.

It's a risky lineup as any, and with a steller Matt Murray in net, the Penguins are tough exit for anyone in a seven-game series. But coming back with Moose when he was coming off the injury, he's our guy. Without Murray, the Pens relied on a battery of Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. Their run to the Stanley Cup Final was nothing short of incredible. The Predators should be able to handle the Avalanche in four games easily as they are stronger at each position and Avalanche starting goalie Semyon Varlamov is injured and won't be available in the first round. Some teams like the Oilers, Islanders, Stars and others were expected to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season but ended up missing out. The former shutdown ace has become a two-way force, putting up career offensive numbers while maintaining his beefy possession stats.

The Flyers applied some early pressure in the second with shots on goal by Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov. Shayne Gostisbehere has shaken off his sophomore slump, giving the Flyers a mobile blueline to jump-start the rush. "And I think we can play a lot better".

How They Lose: Philadelphia is very streaky.

You need three things on a team to win in the playoffs: experience, goals and a good goalie. However, they'll definitely get rolled in the second round by Pittsburgh - you heard it here first.

The Flyers just need to improve in some - OK, tons - of areas. Through 83 regular season contests, 48 of the team's games have gone over the total, while 33 have gone under and just two have pushed. New Jersey has also allowed the second most amount of goals among all playoff teams.

"You can't see yourself as a victim out there", Flyers goalie Brian Elliott said Thursday at PPG Paints Arena, a day after allowing the first five goals in the Penguins' 7-0 Game 1 victory.

Malkin pushed the Penguins ahead 3-0 with a spectacular goal at 14:09 as he skated through three Flyers and flipped a backhand shot past Elliott.

Five Things To Watch 1.

Special Teams - On paper, it was not a bad night for the penalty kill.

"It was one of the worst games I've been a part of". They wanted to make sure that those were the matchups in the playoffs.

The Kings still have a number of key players from their Stanley Cup wins and Jonathan Quick's having his best season in years. Murray has endured a hard season both on and off the ice, but had a.923 save percentage in games against the Flyers.

The Flyers this season are 0-3-2 against Pittsburgh and have been outscored by the Penguins this season 27-11, including Wednesday night's debacle. There is a reason he is considered to be one of the best. He continues to perform at a high level and take his teams far.

The two x-factors in the series could be Rick Nash for the Bruins and Patrick Marleau for the Leafs. There were only six Penguins players who did not pick up a point, the most shocking being Phil Kessel.

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