Saturday, May 30, 2009

Penguins vs. Red Wings: Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Here we go again! The Stanley Cup Finals are set to kick off today, and things look pretty familiar. For the first time since 1984, we have two teams squaring off in a re-match with the Stanley Cup on the line. The storyline is much the same as last year, with the young Penguins facing off against the battle-tested Detroit Red Wings. Of course, a few things are different, like the team that Marian Hossa plays for and the health of a few key players for the Red Wings.

After going 2 for 2 in my Conference Finals picks, here is my pick for the Stanley Cup Finals. I was tempted to simply re-post my pick from last year when these two teams played, but although the prediction is the same, the reasons for the pick are slightly different.

Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit

Detroit in 6
With how evenly matched these two teams are, this is a tough prediction to make. Both teams feature quality top-end scoring talent, deep forward lines, solid defense and a goalie who is just good enough when he needs to be. Neither team really has momentum on their side, either, since both simply rolled over their opponents in the Conference Finals. The Penguins are the healthier team, but Detroit has the better talent all-around.

So, when two teams are so closely matched on paper, you start to look at the intangibles. Which team has tons of playoff experience? Which team has guys who have been through the war and know what it takes to win? Which team has done it before? The Red Wings are the answer to all of those questions, and therefore are my pick to win it all.

Of course, the Penguins are capable of proving me wrong. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been fantastically good, putting up possibly the best numbers for any teammates in NHL Playoff history. These guys can carry the Pens without any help from their teammates, so it will take quite an effort from the Red Wings defense to slow them down. The health of Nicklas Lidstrom, who appears set to go, will be a big determining factor as to how well Detroit can contain the Big Two.

Detroit will also be without Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper for at least the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, so their depth will be tested. Luckily, they have a slew of quality forwards who can step into the gaps and the team won't miss a beat. The Red Wings are a fine-tuned machine, and if one of the gears goes out, they simply replace it with one of the many parts they have lying around. The Wings also have a slightly better defense than Pittsburgh, plus a goaltender who has a few Stanley Cups under his belt already.

The Penguins are getting closer, but they still don't have what it takes to take down the Red Wings juggernaut. The Wings have too much talent, depth and experience to be knocked off. The only thing that could possibly hold them back is if a few more players are sidelined due to injury, but even then, a second straight Stanley Cup seems inevitable. With the mess that has gone on in Detroit over the last year, it will be nice to see Hockeytown celebrate another win.


Anonymous said...

Im really thinking the Penguins are going to win in 7 games this year, there alot different team then last year. every game is going to be about home ice advantage until game 7, when the Pens steal it from the wings on their home ice.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, stats aren't a big deal. Its not about what's on paper, its about what's going on the ice. Pittsburgh in 7.