Tonight the Stanley Cup Finals begin in Detroit, at "The Joe". The Detroit Red Wings, as close to a dynasty that has been recently fielded in professional sports, take on the Pittsburgh Penguins for their league's championship, for the second time in as many years. This should be a great series but it sure seems that Detroit is coming into this series a little more "banged up" than Pittsburgh; and the Penguins are coming into the series with a lot of quiet determination and confidence. Penguins star center Sydney Crosby has been very low key and carefully making sure to acknowledge the fact that while the Penguins are comfortable in their role as challengers and prepared for the finals, they realize they have not yet won Hockey's Greatest Prize as a team yet. That's making for some pretty boring interviews but it is "the smart course of action" by the Commissioner's favorite pet.
There's a lot of great hockey in store before the Cup is raised by it's eventual winner. This weekend they'll play back to back games in Detroit to open the series and then the action will move to the Igloo in Pittsburgh. Personally I don't see Pittsburgh winning more than one game this weekend in Detroit, even considering the injuries to the Red Wings and the roll the Penguins have been on - Detroit just has too many weapons, too much experience and too much pride to let that happen. However, Pittsburgh is too hungry not to win at least one, unless Chris Osgood steals at least one of the two games from them. So I'm thinking Detroit takes tonight's opener and Pittsburgh comes back and takes tomorrow's, especially if the Detroit blue-lines corps continues to be forced to play without or short shift Captain, Nicklas Lidstrom.
The latest news is that Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will miss game one, if Lidstrom is slowed as well, that will be an impact that even the experienced, talent rich, Red Wings will feel. Given all that is going on the Wings players to watch have to be Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Chris Osgood; if they open the series by making a statement, even with Datsyuk and Draper out and Lidstrom slowed, a failure by the Penguins to provide a commensurate response will mean a long night for Pittsburgh fans. For Pittsburgh the keys are pretty straightforward: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, and perhaps most of all Marc-Andre Fluery. Truth be told both these teams are so broad and deep the three stars at the end of each game could end up being 21 unique different guys names and you would still have guys on each bench that folks might be arguing should get recognized. That said here's my predictions for the weekend and the series:
Tonight, Detroit wins 4-2 in regulation, the fourth goal is an empty netter. Detroit has 40 or more shots on goal, tonight.
This weekend ends with the series tied 1-1. Pittsburgh makes all the right adjustments and wins game 2 outright 5-2 in regulation. The fifth goal is an empty netter. Detroit has less than 30 shots on goal in game 2.
The series ends with Pittsburgh taking it in six games. Detroit wins games 1 and 5. The Pens win games 2, 3, 4, and 6. At least 2 games go to OT in games 2-6.
Okay hows that for a set of prognostications? I wonder what Peerless thinks. Oh and let me say making these predictions really hurts since as a Caps fan, I'd rather see Detroit win. Historically Detroit has won back to back Cups three times before so I'm kind of bucking history and a trend with my predictions. Please vote in the Poll on what you think will happen this weekend...
Thanks for reading! I'll post my next in the series "Were They Worth It?" later this weekend or Monday morning.
Can't wait till next season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!