(4) Penguins vs. (6) Hurricanes
Penguins Leading Playoff Scorer: Sidney Crosby (right), 21 points (12 goals, nine assists).
Hurricanes Leading Playoff Scorer: Eric Staal, 13 points (nine goals, four assists).
Penguins with Stanley Cup bling: Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Petr Sykora.
Hurricanes with Stanley Cup bling: Anton Babchuk, Rod Brind'Amour, Erik Cole, Matt Cullen, Frantisek Kaberle, Chad LaRose, Eric Staal, Niclas Wallin, Ray Whitney, Cam Ward.
Something worthwhile about the Penguins: The Penguins have gotten 10 goals from their defensemen, the most in the playoffs.
Something worthwhile about the Hurricanes: Goaltender Cam Ward has never lost a playoff series in his NHL career.
Something useless about the Penguins that is vaguely connected to the Hurricanes: Hurricanes associate head coach Ron Francis is one of four players to have worn No. 10 for the Penguins and to have also suited up for the Whalers/Hurricanes. The others are Pierre Larouche, Barry Pederseon and Gary Roberts.
Something useless about the Hurricanes that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins goaltender Frank Pietrangelo holds the Carolina franchise record for saves in a playoff game. As a member of the Hartford Whalers, he made 53 against the Canadiens in a 3-2 road loss, May 1, 1992.
Former Hurricanes/Whalers on the Penguins: Craig Adams, RW; Eddie Johnston, senior advisor/hockey operations; The great Mike Zigomanis C.
Former Penguins on the Hurricanes: Tom Barrasso, goaltending coach; Ron Francis, associate head coach; Kevin McCarthy, assistant coach; Jim Rutherford, general manager.
Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Brooks Orpik, Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, etc. The Hurricanes have gotten a lot of offense this postseason from simply crashing the net against the Devils and Bruins. They've also gotten timely goals through that simple practice. The Penguins' defense can't allow the likes of Eric Staal, Jussi Jokinen and others to have too much freedom in the Penguins' zone.
Who needs to be the difference for the Hurricanes: Cam Ward (right). It's pretty simple for the Hurricanes. In order for them to pull off an upset, they need the 2006 Conn Smythe Award winner to steal games in this series. And he has done that in the first and second rounds. He easily the best goaltender still alive in the playoffs and he needs to play like it if the Hurricanes hope to make it back to the Stanley Cup final.
Best Penguins YouTube Video We Could Find: Kevin Stevens getting four goals in Game 3 of the Wales Conference final against the Bruins:
Best Hurricanes YouTube Video We Could Find: Tuomo Ruutu abusing children in a Finnish Snickers commercial:
EN Prediction: Penguins 4-3. This series scares us from a Penguins perspective. A lot. When you have a goaltender playing like Cam Ward is, you're a dangerous team. Then when you consider the fact that Carolina is getting timely scoring from all over their lineup, they're a scary team. They haven't played a team like the Penguins which has two of the world's best talents, but then the Penguins haven't played a goaltender as good as Cam Ward. That said, we still think the overall talent and depth, particularly on defense, of the Penguins is enough to push them by Carolina, but not by a lot.
(Photos: Crosby-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Ward-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)