In just under 3 hours, NHL fans will be treated to another fantastic outdoor matchup. Jonathan Toews and Sid the Kid face-off in what seems to myself and many others as a battle of potential Stanley Cup finalists, as well as maybe the best offensive teams in their respective conferences.
I will say, to some degree it bothers me that this game is all hyped to Sid vs Toews. I understand that it's purely marketing hype but lets not forget about all of the offensive weapons in this game. Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Saad, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz...plenty of olympic talent here.
As a penguins fan, I'm anxious to use this as a measuring stick. Personally, I think the hawks are a better team, but not by much, and in a seven game series who knows? Pittsburgh could win 4 games to 1. Who knows, that's the beauty of the NHL postseason and the parody of this league.
Back to the point though. The hawks are better coached. They play a more complete game. They have 3 lines that can chip in, and 3-4 extremely talented defensemen. They don't necessarily rely on two stars to win, this team can win games when Toews and Kane don't show up on the scoresheet.
Looking to tonights game, I look for a faster starting outdoor game than we are used to. Most of these games end up with a boring first period as teams are just feeling out the environment but I have a hunch that won't be the case tonight as many members of both teams have outdoor game experience. I look for Geno to really have his legs, and I look for Kane to really be looking to put on a show on a big stage to avenge his mishaps in the semifinal olympic game.
Looking ahead, this would be an AWESOME stanley cup final, especially considering that I believe both teams (pens in particular) will make some relatively significant roster moves between now and Wednesday. Ever since the Pens won the cup and the Hawks were the upcoming team, these teams have always drawn comparisons of developing talent around 2-3 star players. Now, it would seem as though the Hawks may have the upper hand in this conversation.
Enjoy the game!