While it is an exciting time to be an Islander because of the tremendous hustle and bustle regarding the first overall pick, you can bet your ass no one is having more fun than Penguin and Red Wing fans. For the second year in a row, the Penguins and Red Wings will be facing off in the Stanley Cup Final, and you can bet that both teams will be even more prepared for each other this time around. With the Penguins having a fairly different look this year, and the Red Wings maintaining the core and adding all-star Marian Hossa to the mix (obviously from Pittsburgh), it will definitely be a great series.
Let’s Break it Down...
Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Chris Osgood. The young stud with the lightning quick glove and legs who hasn’t won it yet vs. the aging veteran, who is still as consistent as they come in the playoffs, and has won it all several times. Who would you rather have? Although Fleury has done extremely well in these playoffs, much like last year’s, it is hard to bet against Chris Osgood in the playoffs. If this were the regular season, I’d put my money on Fleury one hundred times over, however, I still think the master (Osgood) will be able to outplay his apprentice (Fleury) in a series of the masters (Red Wings) against the apprentices (Penguins). Advantage: Red Wings
This might be the most simple of the three categories to rank. With a defense featuring Niklas Lidstrom (the best defenseman in the game), as well as Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Brad Stuart, how can you even question their uncanny ability to dominate an opponents offense in their own defensive end, and then dominate an opponents defense on the scoresheet as well? On Pittsburgh’s side, they are going to be relying heavily on Sergei Gonchar and Phillipe Boucher to hold down the reins, as Hal Gill is simply too slow-footed to keep up with the likes of Datsyuk, Hossa, Zetterberg, and Franzen. While Long Island native, Rob Scuderi, has excelled in the playoffs this year, and Brooks Orpik has been his hard-hitting, crease-clearing self, it is still hard to measure them up against the Red Wings defense overall. When it comes to defense, I always love the experience factor Detroit brings, and how can you go against the best defender to play in the NHL for the past decade? Advantage: Red Wings
Here is where my job gets a little more difficult. With a team that features Hossa, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, and Hudler as five of their top forwards, how can you bet against them, right? However, with the best all-around player in the game in Evgeni Malkin, a phenomenal playoff performer in Sidney Crosby, as well as veteran leadership coming from Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz (who has won it all with Anaheim), it is hard to bet against Pittsburgh’s offense. While it is relatively even on the offensive side, I still think that Pittsburgh might have a slight edge considering Malkin has been on fire lately, and Crosby has been on fire throughout the playoffs. Couple in a healthy Guerin who is a great leader and the Penguins may find their advantage in the offensive category, even only if by a slight margin. Just like I said it's hard to bet against the best defenseman in the game, it is just as hard to bet against two out of the top three forwards in the game! Advantage: Penguins
Although I sit here preaching that the Islanders should select John Tavares because offense is exciting and it takes you places, defense, in this situation, will win a championship. With both teams having such high-powered offenses and great goaltending, it will come down to who can keep the puck out of the net the most through solid defensive play. Outlet passes are going to be crucial, as each of these teams are so great at capitalizing on mistakes, and these mistakes are what could change the entire course of the game, if not the series. Considering this to be the case, I am going to have to place my bet on Detroit to win it all for a second year in a row. It will be a great series, probably even better than last year’s considering the maturation and development of Pittsburgh, but I still think the experience on Detroit’s side will lead them to glory. Can the Red Wings keep this up that much longer? At least for this year, I say yes!
DETROIT RED WINGS WIN THE STANLEY CUP IN SIX GAMES
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