I’m betting the Sens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t looked as hungry as the Ottawa Senators, perhaps because they won the Stanley Cup just last season. Injuries are also a concern for the defending champs, especially on the blue line. Key defenders Kris Letang and Justin Schultz leave Ottawa thin on defense, and they are missing grit with injuries to forwards Bryan Rust and Patrick Hornqvist.
The Penguins do have two healthy goaltenders, both of whom have led them to Stanley Cups in previous seasons. Marc-Andre Fleury has gotten them this far, and he has a pair of shutouts in his last four starts. He stopped all 29 shots he faced in Game 7 at Washington, yet the rumor has it that the Penguins are going to bench him in favor of Matt Murray.
I believe the consequences of this desperation move could prove to be disastrous for the Pens. Fleury is one of the most popular players on the team, and I can’t see him being happy to get the hook after just one bad game. If you watched Game 2, you would have seen Phil Kessel yelling at his teammates on the bench. The team chemistry appears to be fragile at the moment, and a move like his could divide the locker room even further. If Murray comes in and has a bad game, then you have a real mess on your hands.
Craig Anderson has been standing on his head for the Sens, boasting a 2.20 GAA and a 9.23 save percentage in the playoffs. The Sens have a huge advantage on the back end with two time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson anchoring a stellar blue line. The Penguins have the star power, but I am not sure they have enough grit to win on the road in Ottawa in Game 4.