Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series Game One PREVIEW: Pens vs. BSens

Saturday, April 27, 2013
It's that time of the year again for fans of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins: the 11th straight season that the franchise will begin their quest for a Calder Cup. The 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs begin tonight for the Penguins against East Division rival Binghamton.

I'll have in-game updates all along the way on Twitter: @H_P_Hockey.

Here's the two-part breakdown of each team:

Part One Breaking Down the BSens

Part Two Breaking Down the WBSPens

I'll lead into the head-to-head matchup with this bit from Trevor Smith after yesterday's practice:
"This year everyone is pretty close and anyone's system or style of play can go pretty deep in this playoff. I feel like it's going to be an exciting series. It's a rivalry, it's an hour up the road so it's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of fun to watch for the fans," Smith said. "It's going to be a battle."

Looking at How The Pens & BSens Match Up

Offense (Forwards)

The Penguins have enjoyed success when their offense has been successful, especially when scoring three or more goals. They have five 20-goal scorers from the regular season (Kolarik, Nesbitt, Smith, Holzapfel and Thompson) and need that secondary scoring touch or scoring depth if they want a chance of making a legitimate run this postseason. Binghamton has had several guys step up their game post NHL lockout.

Edge: Binghamton

Defense (Defenseman)

Both teams have a good mix of youth and experience on the blue line. For the Penguins, what a difference a year makes for Philip Samuelsson. Last season was a learning experience for the rookie defenseman, and he could very well be on the shutdown pair in his sophomore campaign this postseason. The Penguins gave up the least goals in the regular season to balance offensive woes and will need that to continue in the postseason.

Edge: Penguins


The Penguins duo of Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen combined for nine shutouts and received the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award. Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner graduated to the NHL leaving Marc Cheverie backing up Nathan Lawson. Decided advantage for the Penguins but as evidenced last night with Hershey's 5-2 win over the top seeded Providence Bruins, that's why they play the games.

Edge: Penguins

Three Things To Key In On

1. Secondary Scoring

Who gets it more consistently? Who scores the "timely goals"?

2. Players to Watch

For WBS, if the top line isn't scoring Derek Nesbitt and Paul Thompson are the guys to keep an eye on. For BNG, Nathan Lawson didn't practice until yesterday. He's expected to start Game One but if he's not 100%, Marc Cheverie could be between the pipes.

3. The Intangibles

Which team's power play can get the offense jump-started? Mistakes are under the microscope from here on out, and the team that minimizes them while also capitalizing on their opportunites is obviously important.
As for a friendly prediction to show why my career path of writing is a better decision than foreseeing the future? I'll hop on the conservative Penguins in four games bandwagon, but a well rounded scoring Penguins lineup or lack there of could tip the scale either way, respectively.

Expected starters in net and lineups for both teams after the jump in our Game One preview.

Expected Lineups

Starting goaltenders: WBS - Jeff Zatkoff (26-20-0, 1.93 GAA, .920 SV%, 5 SO) vs. BNG Nathan Lawson (12-6-2, 2.19 GAA, .938 SV%, 2 SO)

For the Penguins:

Riley Holzapfel - Trevor Smith - Chad Kolarik
Dominik Uher - Brian Gibbons - Paul Thompson
Derek Nesbitt - Warren Peters - Adam Payerl
Bobby Farnham - Zach Sill - Jayson Megna

Dylan Reese - Brian Dumoulin
Joey Mormina - Philip Samuelsson
Alex Grant - Reid McNeill

Scratches: Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Darling, Cody Wild, Chris Barton, Christiaan Minella, Phil Dupuis, Chris Collins, Anton Zlobin, Harrison Ruopp and Matia Marcantuoni.

For the Senators:
Matt Puempel - Stephane Da Costa - Mark Stone
Cole Schneider - Derek Grant - David Dziurzynski
Shane Prince - Pat Cannone - Hugh Jessiman
Corey Cowick - Wacey Hamilton - Buddy Robinson

Mark Borowiecki - Cody Ceci
Brett Lebda - Fredrik Claesson
Tyler Eckford - Chris Wideman

Scratches: Michael Sdao, Daniel New, Andre Petersson, Jack Downing, Darren Kramer, Buddy Robinson, Brad Peltz, Dustin Gazley, Jakub Culek and Ben Blood


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