Penguins battle it to second round

| Saturday, April 26, 2008

Making it to the second round has not been easy for the Penguins -- they've done it in only 10 of their 20 previous postseason appearances -- and their success rate isn't all that good. They are 4-6 all-time in the second round and 0-3 after a first-round sweep.

He said it

"I've never dove. I don't. If I go down, it's because I've been forced out. If not, I'll find a way to stay on my feet."

-- Penguins center Sidney Crosby, denying assertions that he benefits from favorable calls by NHL officials


• Defenseman Kris Letang, Penguins

Though only a 21-year-old rookie in his first Stanley Cup playoffs, Letang has shown the poise of a veteran. In the first round against Ottawa, he was a plus-2 and averaged 17:19 of ice time, more than shutdown defensive specialists Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi. Though known as an offensive defenseman, he has enough experience from playing in international competitions and winning back-to-back gold medals at the World Junior Championships to know when to play tough. In four games against Ottawa, he was third among Penguins defensemen with six hits, behind only Brooks Orpik (16) and Gill (7).

Defenseman Marc Staal, Rangers

Known mostly in this area as Jordan's "other" older brother, he has established himself as one of the best young defensemen in the NHL. Though he is in his first NHL playoffs, he has a plethora of international experience and was a member of Canada's 2006 gold medal team at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic where he was named most outstanding defenseman ahead of Kris Letang. He also was a member of the Under-17 gold medalists in 2004 and is the only rookie defenseman to have a game-winning goal in the postseason this year.


Rangers forward Sean Avery may be a pest, but he also came into the series as the most accurate shooter in the NHL in the playoffs. He scored on 3 of 9 shots, a 33.3 percent conversion rate that tied him with Dallas center Steve Ott (2 for 6) for the league lead.

Of the 10 players who led the NHL in penalty minutes through the first round, only three -- Colorado's Cody McLeod (5th, 20 minutes) and Gary Roberts of the Penguins and Stars forward Brenden Morrow (T-7th, 16) -- made it through to the second round. All of Roberts' minutes came in the Penguins 4-0 win in Game 1 against Ottawa.

This date in Penguins history

April 26, 1975

Depending on the perspective, the Penguins either completed the greatest collapse or the New York Islanders the greatest comeback in the expansion era. The Penguins became the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a series when they dropped Game 7 in Pittsburgh, 1-0, when Ed Westfall scored the only goal of the game. Afterward, the Penguins filed for bankruptcy for the first time.

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