Will Pens make the conference finals?
Posted: Saturday May 15, 1999 01:51 AM
CNNSI.com asked users whether the Pittsburgh Penguins would advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Here are selected responses:
Without a doubt the Pens will go to the Conference Finals and then on to
take Lord Stanley. All you sports broadcasters think that being bankrupt
means you are automatically out of the Playoffs. And don't say it was luck
either because luck won't even bring you to the Playoffs. They are playing
with heart and desire. Look for them to be drinking from the Cup.
It may be a true statement that the Pens will have to play their best
hockey to even reach the finals but that is exactly what they are on the
verge of doing. The combination of Jagr's groin feeling better, Kovalev and
Straka picking it up, getting goals from role players such as Kesa, Hatcher
and Slegr and the Stanley Cup playoff experience of Tom Barrasso make the Pens the
most dangerous team left in the playoffs. Result, 3rd Cup arrives in the
Undoubtedly. The Penguins were a contender for 1st place in the Eastern
conference three-quarters of the way through the regular season. Were it
not for a spate of injuries that deprived the team of key players down the
stretch (leaving a nucleus of talented but very young players), the
Penguins would still have home-ice advantage.
The major factor which helps the Penguins against a team like Toronto is
the way they move the puck. Pittsburgh likes to keep it close to the
boards, which is tough to defend for a speedy team like Toronto. It is also
tough for Toronto to get going offensively because of the Penguins'
swarm-style defense. Everywhere a player looks to pass, a Penguin is
Cujo never advances past the second round of the playoffs, therefore I
can't believe he will win this series. Also, Barrasso keeps getting better
as the playoffs continue. These two factors equal the Penguins in 6.
Pittsburgh in the Conference Finals...not a chance. Unfortunately for the
Pens, they have one too many distractions that have been in the way of
success. First of all, they're playing the surging Toronto Maple Leafs who
are just lethal on the offense. Oh yeah, the Pens also have to deal with a
guy named Cujo. Curtis
Joseph has done an excellent job of keeping the puck out of the net for
the boys in blue and frustrated the heck out of Jagr and Company in Game 2.
Off the ice, fans and media both have been reminding the Penguins that this
may be their last series in the NHL as a franchise. Playing with all that
pressure isn't really good for a team who wants to advance to the
Conference Finals. But then again, who would have thought the Caps would
have made it to the Finals last year. If I said I thought they could, I
would be lying.
Yes I believe the Pens will advance to the conference finals. This team not
only has the skill to do so but also the heart. EVERYONE seemed to believe
that that they would crumble and fall to New Jersey, especially with Jagr
out. But this team pulled together and every player dug down deep into
their hearts and picked up their game a notch to surprise every hockey fan
in the world, except of course we die-hard Pittsburg fans, and knock off
the Devils. Sure the Leafs scored a lot of goals this season but this is
the playoffs, a new season. And after game 2 I have to wonder,(as I'm sure
Flyer fans will agree), just how many times the NHL officials are going to
be able to turn a blind eye to blatant, crucial penalties late in the game,
without some repercussions.
The Penguins have a great balance of players with Jagr and Barasso leading
the pack. The Leafs surprised them in the last game, but the Pens will
regroup and defeat them with solid team play. The Leafs will look to
reproduce Sunday's game, and that will be difficult because they lack
consistency. The Pens have consistency and they don't depend on one player
having a great game.
The penguins have no chance of getting into the finals because that means
they will have to get by the leafs -- which they won't. The penguins work
well as a team with their balanced offense, minimization of foolish
penalties, and strong neutral zone coverage. But they do not have the
defense to hold down an explosive Toronto offence that is long overdue.
Both teams will have chances, but this series will probably be decided by
the netminders, and Tom Barrasso IS NO Curtis Joseph.
Take away the fact they are the 8th seed. Can you see one of the other
teams left with more firepower? Yes I know defense and goaltending are key
to win in the playoffs, and the Pens are scarce at defense, but even with a
70% Jagr the Pens beat the Devils, and put a first game scare into the
Leafs. Even without Jagr the Pens can score. It's the numbers, look at the
The Penguins definitely do not have the talent they had seven years ago
but, I do think they will make it to the Stanley. Tom Barrasso is doing
awesome in goal and they proved they can score goals without Jags. Yeah,
they'll make it.
The Pens will stroll past the Leafs. Of all the playoff teams in the East,
Toronto is the only one which presents no physical threat to the Pens
lightweight defense. CuJo is the only thing standing between Pittsburgh, a
clean sweep, and some R&R time for Jagr's groin.
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