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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pens Bust Out The Brooms

Going to keep this relatively short today as I'm still too giddy to really write anything. I went to bad last night thinking that they couldn't possibly have swept the Ottawa Senators after being dispatched in five games last season.

I woke up today and had to check the scoreboards just to make sure that what happened last night, actually happened.

I can't get over how much improved the Penguins are from last year. They have a sense of purpose this year, an almost undeniable sense of the moment. You can see it in their eyes on the bench. They know they have the chance to do something special this season, just how special remains to be seen.

The only thing I don't like about the Penguins brushing the Senators under the rug is that they will have about a week off or so between games. Who they will play in the next round remains to be seen as the Devils/Rangers and Capitals/Flyers series are shaping up to be long ones. (Yes, I'm aware that the Devils are down 3-1, but do you really think they won't show up at home in front of the 12 fans who will come out to the game and attempt to defend their home ice?)

The Pens have looked sharp this entire series and proved that they can win a tight game in the playoffs. They also showed that they have a killer instinct and won't mess around when it comes to putting the final nail in the coffin.

Last night in Game 4, the Pens led 2-1 heading into the third. There comes a time in every rod playoff game that you have to weather the storm and since the Pens dominated the first two periods, that time became the third period.

In the third period, the Senators came out with a desperation that was unseen for most of the series. They outshot the Penguins 9-3 in the third and Marc-Andre Fleury had to make a couple of sparking saves to preserve the lead. The Senators pulled Martin Gerber with about 90 seconds to play and kept the puck in the Pens' end for most of it, but how fitting is it that a loose puck pops in the air right to Sidney Crosby who took off up ice and deposited the puck into the empty cage? Sens fans booed Sid every time he touched the puck and if there was a better way to give the proverbial middle finger to the crowd, I'd like to know what it is.

Here's the highlights from the game:

Just throwing this out there, but Jarkko Ruutu may be one of the most under rated guys in the league. Coach Michael Therrien uses him in shootouts often and for good reason. That goal he scored last night should not have been scored by an enforcer type like him. I was at a Penguins game last January with Cheech and Ruutu was awarded a penalty shot and made it look easy as he stuffed it behind Andrew Raycroft.

This is a much different team than last year and they've elevated their play to a level unseen in the regular season. It's scary how much the team is focussed and driven to avenge last season. Now that they have, they need to keep the same focus heading into the second round against whoever they end up playing. I know I won't be happy with a second round exit and neither will they.

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