Remember last year when the Sens were the favorite...but Brian Murray was playing the underdog card with his team and the media?
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Well, it worked.
He got his guys to play a physical brand of hockey that probably no Sens team had ever played before. And it was good enough to get them to the Finals.
A year later and the roles seem to be reversed...with the Sens truly looking like the underdog this time around. They stumbled into the playoffs, have key injuries to Alfredsson, Kelley and Fisher, and have not been getting the kind of goaltending or defensiveplay that they did last year.
So this time, when Murray plays the underdog card, which he almost certainly will, he won't necessarily be lying.
The question is, will the final outcome be the same?
As I look at the Eastern Conference playoff macthups, I know one thing for certain...I am glad I am not a betting man.
These teams are so close, that I wouldn't be suprised if the entire lower half of the bracket advanced to round 2.
But when I look at the Penguins I have a much different feeling about this playoff season compared to last.
Last year, I thought, these guys "can" win...they can make this interesting. But even if they don't, this will be a great experience for us and them.
This year, I see a team that has an entire line of depth more than it had last year...Hossa, Sykora, Dupruis, Sydor and Gill have all been added to the mix. And they all are playing as well or better than the guys they replaced.
I see a team that continues to get great role playing pefromances from guys like Rutuu, Kennedy, Talbot and even big Georges Laraque.
Then you add to that, Malkin as an even bigger scoring threat than before, and the best hockey we have ever seen out of Malone, Scuderi and Orpik.
And for toppers, you throw in a healthy and rested Crosby, and an "in the zone" Fluery.
All these things...plus a return to the line-up of "no fun to play against" guys like Gary Roberts and Adam Hall, and you get the makings of what appears to be a pretty good playoff team.
A team that "should" win this series.
Of course, nothing is decided by computer blogs or newspaper articles. Games are won and lost on the ice.
I am hoping for a better outcome this time around. One that should see our Pens redeem themselves for the 5 game loss to the Sens last year.
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