The wait is over and the Penguins now know that they will be playing the Carolina Hurricanes, starting on home ice at Mellon Arena. The question is when will this series be able to start. There are apparently a variety of arena conflicts over the next 4 or 5 days. I will let you know the moment I receive the schedule from the Penguins.
Ironic that the Penguins will be facing the Hurricanes for the right to play for the Stanley Cup, as several of their all time greats and playoff heroes are in high level posts with the Hurricanes. Ron Francis is a member of the front office and serves as an assistant coach, while Tom Barrasso is Cam Ward's goalie coach.
This isn't a great match-up for the Penguins, as the Hurricanes tend to stifle them with their defensive approach to the game. Plus Cam Ward has long been known to stone the Penguins...I will never forget his showing during Sidney Crosby's rookie year when he looked great during regulation against the likes of Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Sergei Gonchar, and Ziggy Palffy. He also shut Crosby, Lemieux and Palffy down in a shoot-out to secure the victory for his team.
If my quick calculations are correct, Ward has posted a 9-2-1 record in 12 games against the Penguins, while posting a 2.56 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He just seems to play lights out in most games against the Penguins...when you combine that the methodical game that the Hurricanes play, you have a formula for success.
The league has to be excited about the Civil War story line that it will be able to run with, now that it has Jordan versus Eric Staal for a trip to the Stanley Cup. What the heck do you do in this situation as a parent. Sure the Staal family has some experience dealing with this, as the Penguins played the Rangers in last year's playoffs, but it has got to be tough knowing that one of your kids is going home.
This should be a great series for hockey fans, as there are plenty of forwards and defensemen on both sides who can skate and move the puck effectively. If the last regular season game between these two is any indication, the teams will produce some excellent hockey.
I will update this blog as soon as I know the series schedule...stay tuned for much more on the Penguins/Hurricanes Eastern Conference Final.