Does it matter what writers predict to happen in the series? Are we all a little cautiously optimistic heading into the game tonight?

1. No it does not matter that about 75% of the ESPN panel are picking the Pens to win
2. Yes

And here's why:

This regular season for most Lightning fans has been a surprise in itself. Before seeing the players skate, before seeing Boucher coach, all we had was trust in Yzerman. We can the trust that he could put together a team that only last year was so lacking in cohesiveness and productivity.

So we went into the regular season with low expectations. Yes we expected them to do better, but c'mon, that's not hard to do compared to the year or two or three before. There was a lot of fans out there that expected them to just miss the playoffs or JUST make the playoffs. And don't lie to me telling me you predicted that they would finish 5th or would lead the SE Division for a good chunk of the season, because you are lying if you tell me that.

We've had our ups and downs over the season. There has been games against teams that we should have won (panthers?), and the team just didn't. They weren't able to win those 'should win' games. But we've also seen the team do well. We have demolished games while on the powerplay. And while Stamkos has been struggling down the stretch, Vinny had a monstrous stretch.

So here we are, heading into the playoffs after being away from this dance for a few years. That's why you'll read stories about how the Pens have experience. Well of course they have experience, they went to the finals in the year we were picking Stamkos. They won a Cup while we were picking Hedman. And last year while we were rejoicing in the GTFO moment of OK Hockey, they were battling it out against Montreal. So obviously, they have more recent playoff experience than us. We can't change the experience factor, but does it really matter that much in the first round of the playoffs?

I see why many writers are picking the Pens to win the series. Whatever.

We know what this team can do.

We know that our powerplay can take over a game. We know how much of a monster Vinny has been recently. And the firepower we have in St. Louis, Stamkos, Purcell, Gagne and Malone. This series can go either way if our boys keep their composure. If they stick to the Boucher's system and play the same game they've played all year, they'll be fine.