May 21, 2008

My Long Awaited Stanley Cup Prediction


As hard as this is going to be, I will try to present an unbiased Stanley Cup Finals preview. Writing up a preview knowing you have a dog in the fight is not an easy job. , but I'll do my best.

Outside of having the Rangers and Kings in the final, thereby drawing the two biggest television markets in the US, the NHL has to be very pleased with this Red Wings-Penguins match-up. Detroit has fans all over the country and have the charm of being an Original Six team. Pittsburgh is the "up and coming" young team with the league's marketing chip in Sidney Crosby. Some folks are out and out saying it'll be the Red Wings in a slaughter. Others think the Pens will outlast Detroit in a long series. What do I think?

Well, I've thought pretty long and hard about this and actually sat on both sides of the fence since Monday night when the final pairing was decided.

Penguins in 6

If there's one thing that's stayed in my head and that I've noticed between the two teams this post-season it's been depth. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have pretty good third and fourth lines, hell the Red Wings third line center is Johan Franzen. Not too shabby. When you reach the Stanley Cup Finals, you sure as hell have good depth players.

What will be the X-factor?

Goaltending.

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Say what you want about Marc-Andre Fleury, but he will carry the Penguins in this series. For some reason, people still have their doubts about him, even though he's been spectacular since coming back from injury and is currently sporting a 12-2 record, 1.70 goals-against average, and a .938 save pct. Oh, and three shutouts as well. He is the current "hot playoff goalie" and this playoff season can be his coming out party. Fleury has faced much scrutiny after being the number one pick in 2003, but let's not forget, the kid is still only 23 years old. Most goaltenders don't develop until around 28, so at the moment, he's ahead of schedule. His improved rebound control and crease positioning has helped turn him from a wanna-be spectacular goalie to one that has the trust of his defense.

Chris Osgood has anchored the Detroit defense after replacing Dominik Hasek in the first-round and ripped off nine straight wins. He was pretty solid in the regular-season, but only started 40 games. He certainly is fresh and coach Mike Babcock won't have to worry about his starting goaltender having any rust. You might even say that Osgood is an underrated goaltender in the grand scheme of things. In his 14-year career, Ozzie has 363 wins and a 2.43 GAA. He won a Stanley Cup in 1998, so he knows what it takes to win the Finals.

I think Fleury will ride his hot streak to a Cup win.

We all know the offensive firepower that Pittsburgh possesses, but more importantly, it's their youth and speed that will assist them. Sure, Detroit has the experience x100 on their side, but will that affect them negatively? Will the Red Wings patience be overcome by the Penguins youthful exuberance and energy?

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There's no need to go in-depth about either teams top lines. We know what Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Pavel Datsyuk will bring to the table. It'll be how the defenses play them that'll dictate the final tally. Detroit's defense is solid as any around. Nicklas Lidstrom is world-class and, though he might be 89-years old, Chris Chelios still has some gas left in the tank. Pittsburgh on the other hand has developed a solid defense corps, something they've sorely lacked the few seasons. Shutting down Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Jaromir Jagr, and Daniel Briere just goes to show you that this Pens blueline is for real. Zetterberg and Datsyuk may not have an easy time getting off quality scoring chances.

There you have it, my Stanley Cup prediction.

Tell me your prediction in the comments.

Ballhype: hype it up!

10 comments:

PghWriter1979 said...

Solid prediction. I've settled on Pens in six too.

Good point about Fleury. He has been the guy ever since that game in Calgary when he got the high ankle sprain (he was just starting to put his game together when he got hurt, too). I may be nuts, but I think he played well last season in that massacre against Ottawa. He was the reason the Pens weren't blown out 10-0 every game, I think. It's about time people started realizing how good a goalie this guy is.

Oh, and when you're in Pittsburgh, grab a sandwich and an Iron City over at Primanti's.

Hip said...

I can't do it. I've thought a ton about this (too much really) and can envision every possible scenario from a sweep either way to a 4OT game 7.

I'm just excited to watch already.

Go Pens.

James said...

All of you need to stop suckin the Pens dicks. I hope you see how stupid all of you look after game 1. Instead of actin like you know what you are talkin about, why not just come out as the haters you are? I'm sorry there isn't more parody in the NHL. I'm sorry all the power rests in the hands of a hand full of teams. But that is not the Wings fault. Why not just accept the inevitable and enjoy the spectacle of one of the greatest teams in history hoisting the cup?

Sean said...

We'd look stupid if the Wings sweep, not if the Wings go up 1-0. It's best of 7, not best of 1. Long way to go and plenty of good hockey remaining.

James said...

Mr. Leahy, please dude. Irish eyes aren't smileing. Do you really think the Pens are better the wings? If you do than you don't watch much hockey I guess. I hope you didn't put any money on em. Even the Blarney Stone couldn't help them in this series, they are overmatched badly. Did you wath the game on CBC last night? When Fluery came out of the locker room he fell flat on his face when he hit the the ice. The game basically went the same way. Holmstrom's goal should have counted, it should have been 5-0. Quit looking back to previous Pens series these playoffs for analysis. The wings arent the Rangers and they are not the Flyers. Detroit is way better. Save your credibility now and shift your coverage to pro wings now. peace out dude, get real....HELLO!

Sean said...

best part of predictions is that you have a 50% chance of being correct. and playoff series are best of 7.

Let the Wings win the series first (which they verywell may do) James before you gloat.

James said...

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT:

Wings to hoist Cup monday night in Detroit!

Also inside...
Malkin a wash out for finals pg.2
Hockey legend Mario Lemieux disgusted by Pens performance pg.3
Young Pens squad spanked by veteran laden Wings lineup pg.4
Cash strapped Pens must take long, hard look at roster/coaching staff pg.5
Predictions by Sean Leahy's Going Five Hole website 180 degrees wrong pg.6

Sean said...

ha

James said...

And so it was. The Wings did in fact win the coveted Stanley Cup in the year 2008. Many were happy, many were not, but the best team won and at the end of the day, that is all that matters. I will taunt this website no longer as the wings have said all that needs to be said. The greatness of this team (this year and as a franchise) will live on, unaffected by time and space. Here is to all of you Pens fans. You have a great young team, but much like the patrons of this website, they need experience. Experience to know when you you got it right, when you are ready for the holy grail of hockey. God bless all of you in your hour of sadness. Hey go Pirates...ok well I guess not, hey go Steelers!

Peace out scrubs.
Dueces....

Sean said...

when did you taunt this website? that's taunting? really?