This matchup is going to spark a rivalry. They had the tight series three years ago in the first round, when Columbus gave Pittsburgh a run for their money. We should see another great series starting tonight.
The Penguins are coming off their Stanley Cup Championship. This year, they played well enough that, on a typical season, would give them the first seed in their division with 111 points, but they head into the postseason hold the second position. The same can be said about Columbus with their 108 points, but they hold the third seed. They were on their way to grabbing the home-ice advantage vs the Penguins, but a 3-5-2 slide ruined it for them.
Looking at the numbers alone, Columbus has the advantage. Both teams have had strong goaltending. If both goalies continue their average on the amount of shot each team takes in a game, however, Columbus edges Pittsburgh by .06 of a goal. If each team held their shot percentage on the shots allowed, Columbus has the advantage by .04 of a goal per game.
The numbers aren’t everything, though, especially when they are this close. Most of those for Columbus were boosted by their 16 game win streak. Excluding that stretch, they have been only a few games above .500. The team stats aren’t as good, either. Plus, while Bobrovsky has been unbreakable with his .932 save percentage, he hasn’t done much in the playoffs, so it is uncertain how he’ll perform. Murray, on the other hand, was a vital piece to their Stanley Cup just last season. Columbus, while the weaker team, still matches up well with the Penguins, so I think it will be a close series, but I see the Penguins winning in six games.