Puck Playoffs by Kevin Stott for Wed., April 16,2008

Apr 16, 2008 7:39 PM

Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators: The Penguins are playing as good as anyone these days and have that nice blend of offense, defense and fan support that most NHL teams dream of. In Ottawa, Senators’ fans are probably a bit down on their boys, who, after winning the season series (3-1) from Pittsburgh, have suddenly devolved into a very average team.

Why? Well, their best player (Alfredsson) has been injured and their two other big scorers (Heatly and Spezza) went scoreless in the first two losses in Pittsburgh. Toss in a goalie like Gerber, who has allowed 4.01 GPG going up against a young buck like Fleury (1.51 GAA), who shut out the Sens in the opener, and you have a mismatch in confidence.

Making matters worse and possibly fueling Pittsburgh’s fire was a comment made by Ottawa Coach Murray who suggested the Penguins tanked their last game of the regular season against Philadelphia in order to avoid meeting their intrastate rival Flyers in the opening round.

So, Ottawa hopefully gets Alfredsson back, but the most of the damage is already done and the Senators are not playing with the zest of a team one would like to put their money on. PENGUINS.

New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers: Goals are usually few and far between in this series and when the linesmaker makes the total 4½, you know defense is the soup du jour. But sooner or later, soft goals happen and all 2-2 games go to overtime. The Devils are playing a little desperately and will push the issue early against the Rangers and netminder Lundvist. Two of the first three games in this series leaked over and the later in the series it gets, the more tired the defense becomes. OVER 4½.

Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators: Nashville was 4-5 lifetime in Music City in the postseason heading into Monday’s skate and 0-9 on the road in the playoffs. Although the Preds played tough in Hockeytown in Games 1 and 2, Detroit has all the tools necessary to make a run at the Stanley Cup and will want to try and get this series over and get some valuable rest while SJ-Calgary, Anaheim-Dallas and Minnesota-Colorado beat up on each other in the latter games in their respective series’. Ellis has had a nice year for Nashville between the pipes but the Wings can go with either Osgood or Hasek. RED WINGS.