By Rob Rossi
The Stanley Cup playoffs are hard, and that is by design.
To win it all, one team must beat four opponents in four best-of-seven series. Injuries, bounces, missed calls – these are things beyond the control of a coach or player, but things that can swing a series.
Only one thing really is true when it comes to the NHL’s postseason: A team needs to catch a break.
The Penguins caught one over the weekend.
By drawing Columbus as a Round 1 opponent, the Penguins avoided Detroit and Philadelphia – clubs they could have and should have beaten, but also clubs that would have provided a stiffer challenge.
Columbus is playing better than either Detroit or Philadelphia, and it is better in the crucial area of goaltending. Still, the Blue Jackets play a system similar to the Penguins, which makes them the ideal opponent.
No NHL team is built to out Penguins the Penguins.
In 2008, when they went to the Final, the Penguins drew a depleted Ottawa squad in Round 1. They swept. That was their easy series.
The next year, when they won it all, they drew a sixth-seeded Carolina in the conference final. They swept. That was the easy series.
Sweeping Columbus might be too much to ask, but the Penguins did just that in five regular season games – doubling up the Blue Jackets by a combined 16-8 score.
The playoffs are hard.
It helps to have something easy break in your favor.
Rob Rossi, ClearChannel’s Penguins Insider, cover the NHL for Trib Total Media. In addition to this blog, his articles can be found here: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/