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Sens Are Dulling Their Way to The Stanley Cup
Penguins Caught In Ottawa's Trap
By Bob Duff
Unless you're a fan of the Ottawa Senators, you just want to look away. It's painful to watch the deadly dull hockey that is their game of choice but you can't argue with its effectiveness. And if the Pittsburgh Penguins don't do something about it soon, another dead-puck era could be foisted upon the NHL. Will things change in Game 4? We've got the skinny, based on odds supplied by Bovada.lv:
In Ottawa, they call it the Kanata Wall, the 1-3-1 defensive system that Senators coach Guy Boucher deploys to eradicate creativity and smother flow from the game. It worked for the most part against the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers through the first two rounds of the playoffs, and it would appear to be clicking to perfection against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
While eliminating Columbus and Washington, the Penguins averaged 3.75 goals per game, and never scored fewer than two goals in any game. Through three games against the Senators, the Penguins have scored three times - once in each game. If that continues, the defending champion Penguins will not.
Pittsburgh's offense is being suffocated. In Ottawa's 5-1 Game 3 triumph, Marc Methot, Derick Brassard, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman all had two points, more than every Penguin has registered in the series save Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel (two points apiece). Ottawa scored four goals in the first period of Game 3, one more than Pittsburgh has tallied in nine periods of series play.
The Penguins want to force the pace, take the play to the other team and make something happen by creating. The Senators are willing to sit back and wait it out until Pittsburgh makes a mistake. That's when Ottawa pounces and so far they are making it work against the most skilled team left in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.
Now it's up to Sidney Crosby and company. Either the Penguins step up in Game 4 and remind everyone why they won the Cup last spring. Otherwise, these flightless birds will be setting sail for summer earlier than anticipated.
Should you back the Sens?
Perhaps it's time we all started to take Ottawa a little more seriously as a Stanley Cup threat. Certainly, Bovada has. The Senators are now the -125 favorites to win the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins, who were favored to win the Stanley Cup at the start of this series, have dropped to +105 to even get to the final.
Curiously, Bovada hasn't gone all in on the Senators. Ottawa is their third choice to win the Stanley Cup at +275. The Penguins are still second pick in this future wager at odds of +250.
Pick: The Penguins (-115) and the over(5)
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