Not yet, though.
The Ottawa Senators clearly are the superior team in this rather interesting playoff matchup and, up 2-1, it has evolved into their series to lose. Barring a third-period collapse in Game 2 last Saturday, when the Pens came from behind and prevailed 4-3, the Sens have been in control and have placed themselves in position to wrap up the best-of-seven set in another couple of games.
Not that the Pens are disgracing themselves. They’re entertaining, but, at this point, they’re so very short of post-season experience, and history shows that it matters.
Hey, the Sens can relate to the Pens. The Sens qualified for the past 10 post-seasons, without a Stanley Cup to show for it. In the first five or six of those post-season efforts, they could pretty well be forgiven. They were upstarts. They were laden with potential, but too raw to ascend to a championship.
That’s precisely what the Pens are dealing with now. Oh, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal already are authentic forces as mere teenagers and have played effectively against Ottawa, but other young Pittsburghers are struggling and, in the case of rookie-of-the-year favourite Evgeni Malkin, it’s been conspicuous.
Malkin has four assists in the series, but three of those were second assists and none could be cited as major reasons for the goals that were scored.
More significant about Malkin is that he has no goals in the series and has been virtually stymied by Wade Redden et al. He hasn’t put a dangerous shot on Ray Emery.
“We have great forwards and they can create offence,” Pittsburgh defenceman Sergei Gonchar said, “but our offence is stopping too much in the neutral zone and we’re not going to win unless we change that.”
The Sens have outshot the Pens 99-66 in the series.
• The Vancouver Canucks lead 2-1 in their series against Dallas and the Stars are, well, done like dinner.
They’ve lost eight of their past nine overtime games, including two in this series, and they have trouble scoring, especially against formidable goaltenders such as Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo.
• The Calgary Flames have been dreadful against the Red Wings, trail 2-0 and have received nothing but a disappearing act from their leader, Jarome Iginla.
With this series moving to Calgary, where the Flames can be tough, bouncing back is a slight possibility. If it doesn’t happen, however, don’t be surprised if coach Jim Playfair is a goner.