Getting the right individual or line matchup can go a long way toward winning a playoff series. Adam Gretz takes a look at some of the matchups that could be worth watching this postseason. This is one of them.
For the third time in four years the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are facing off in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Senators won the first meeting in five games during the 2006-07 season on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Penguins swept the Senators in four straight games the following year on their way to the Final.
Sidney Crosby has been the Penguins’ best offensive weapon this season, recording a career-best 51 goals to go with 58 assists. If past history is any indicator, he’ll be seeing plenty of Ottawa’s shutdown defensive pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. During their first two postseason meetings, Crosby has tallied 13 points in nine games, including eight in the 2008 series. But it’s matchup that hasn’t really worked in his favor in the two years since.
The Matchup: Crosby vs. Volchenkov and Phillips
Over the past two seasons Crosby has played eight regular season games against the Senators, scoring just one goal to go with six assists. A large reason for his pedestrian (by Crosby’s standards) numbers is the relentless play of Volchenkov and Phillips. First, let’s take a look at how Crosby has performed against them the past two years, compared to how he’s performed against other defensive pairings from Ottawa.