Looking at the Eastern Conference final

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins (45-28-9, 2nd, Atlantic) vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes (45-30-7, 2nd, Southeast)

2008-09 SERIES: Pittsburgh, 2-1-1

LEADERS: Pittsburgh – Ruslan Fedotenko (3 GP, 3G, 1A); Sidney Crosby (4 GP, 1G, 6A); Evgeni Malkin (4 GP, 2G, 3A); Marc-Andre Fleury (3 GP, 1-1-1, 2.00 GAA). Carolina – Eric Staal (4 GP, 2 G); Ray Whitney (4 GP, 1G, 3A); Cam Ward (2 GP, 2-0-0, 1.49 GAA); Michael Leighton (2 GP, 0-2-0, 4.03 GAA).

If you like offense, then this is the matchup you want.

Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby leads all playoff goal scorers with 12, three more than Carolina’s Eric Staal. Evgeni Malkin is also among the leaders with 13 assists and 19 points.

That’s why the matchup in goal will be so crucial. Cam Ward – 2.22 GAA and two shutouts - is a Conn Smythe winner, and has been playing over his head so far for the Hurricanes. I give him the nod over Marc-Andre Fleury and his 2.72 GAA.

THE PICK: Carolina in 7. Watch for Hurricanes’ Jussi Jokinen if it comes down to crunch time. A shootout specialist, he has three game-winning goals in the playoffs.

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