Playoff Time is Here!!! ...because it's the Cup...
Great start to the playoffs with a convincing 5-0 win, even without Sid and Orpik in the lineup, plus losing Neal and Jokinen during the game. The good news is that Sid, Orpik, and Jokinen all practiced on regular lines this morning. The bad news is that Neal did not participate at all in the morning skate. Martin missed only the rushes early on in practice, but participated fully later, so no additional worries (I hope). For what it's worth, here were the pairing for the rushes this morning:
Personally, I would prefer to keep Kunitz with Malkin and Neal (when healthy). I was at CONSOL for the final regular season game against Carolina, and that line was once again electric like they were a year ago when Sid was out for an extended period. Yeah, I realize that Kunitz and Dupuis have been awesome with Crosby this season, but I just really like that Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line, and I want to see some Olympics-like magic between Sid and Iggy on the same line again. I like how Jokinen is versatile enough to fill in a top line center role when Sid out, and can also fill in as a 4th line center when Sid's back...very Dupuis-like, and Pascal has been the man for us (leading the NHL in plus-minus). I love what Beau Bennett brings to the table, so I am glad the coaches are giving him an opportunity out there over the more experienced Tyler Kennedy. Morrow's been rock solid, as has been Sutter. This team is truly built for the playoffs.
Here is what my lines would look like when everyone is healthy:
(with Glass, Kennedy, Jeffrey, and Vitale in reserve)
(with Engelland, Depres, and Bortuzzo in reserve)
I also love how Bylsma broke the regular season schedule down into 7 games segments for his players to simulate what it will be like in the playoffs. After the lockout, the games were tightly packed with little opportunity for an extended break, so this playoff setup of playing every other night against the Islanders is already not anything out of the ordinary compared to what they have been dealing with since they finally hit the ice in mid-January.
Looking at how the regular season broke down as if it were actually a series of best-of-7 series, we would currently have won 9 straight series (including four 4-game sweeps and only 2 of the series lasting the full seven games). The first series started out with 2 wins, then 2 losses, 1 win, 1 loss, and finally a "game 7 win" over the Rangers to close out January. To start February, we won 4 in a row for a "sweep." However, then we lost 2 in a row, followed that up with 3 wins, another loss, and finally the other "game 7 win" over the Panthers. We started the next series in another 0-2 hole before the 16 game win streak (completing that "4-2 series victory" and 3 straight "sweeps"). The streak ended with 2 straight losses for yet another 0-2 start for the 3rd time this season, but then we won the next 7 to finish off that round and start off 3-0 in our final "series." We lost the next 2 games, but closed out the season with that huge win over the Canes for a 4-2 "series victory." Broken down into best of 7 series, we won 4-3, 4-0, 4-3, 4-2, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-2, and 4-2. Pretty impressive, and a nice motivational strategy for the coaches.
Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
that's a lot of 0-2 holes to climb out of. If the team has been viewing it that way all season, then they should have some confidence after falling behind the Bruins 0-1. Been there, done that.