So after six games we are heading back to Detroit to watch the final game of NHL hockey of the year, with Pittsburgh fighting to win their first cup in over a decade.
Like I predicted, the series has relied heavily on the positive effects of home ice. If it continues to play out as the past six games have, then Detroit will skate away as champions once again. I'm still pulling for Pittsburgh and hope they can upset the home ice lay-out and emerge as winners. It would be, (for me anyway), unexpected and the start of a new exciting chapter of a rebuilt NHL franchise.
I will definitely be tuning in for Game 7 rooting for the Penguins as I have all series long. It would be great to see Guerin win one more cup, and overall, I think it would be great for the league that Crosby, the face of the game, could finally be crowned as a champion. Although I am not very fond of his playing style, it is impossible to ignore what his achievements mean to the NHL's success.
In addition, watching the Penguins has returned me to my hopes that the Isles will one day look as good as they do. I said it last year; fast-paced, multi-talented, young teams provide the best games of hockey and are created by rebuilding through the draft. Snow has been doing that so far, and I don't expect him to move the first overall pick or trade down in this draft. More young players will most likely be added to the line-up to continue the maturation process of players such as Okposo, Bailey, Bergenheim, and Gervais: four players that really stuck out over the second half of the season.
Tavares can be the final piece to the puzzle as far as offense goes, but the team does need to find their Tyler Kennedy or Chris Letang. They don't have their Brooks Orpik either. Players such as Witt and Sutton will most likely fill out their last year or two remaining on their contracts as they are passing their prime. Gervais and Streit have emerged as a successful duo with Jack Hillen waiting for a permanent opportunity. However, there are holes to fill.
Martinek, Meyer, and the aforementioned Sutton are constantly injured and missing significant amounts of playing time. There's always the possibility that Snow may go after someone like Komisarek to fill in for the physical presence that is missing on the blue-line. Although Sutton is a big boy who does throw his weight around, he doesn't do it as much as I and other fans would like, especially if he's injured for almost 60 games a year. Plus the Isles should look into adding some more offensive skill to their d-core. Although Okposo has a hard shot, he's not the player that most will want stopping a 2-on-1 rush when the power play fails. Same can be said for Doug Weight, as they both were used as anchors throughout the year.
Streit and Gervais can be one tandem, but the Isles could use someone to play with say Martinek or Sutton when healthy. I feel that Jack Hillen still needs more time to develop his all around game before they can start calling him Chris Campoli's replacement.
If the Isles for some reason draft Hedman then they will have more to work with, but the general consensus amongst bloggers is that Tavares is Snow's guy. But we're the Islanders...anything can happen and should not be taken for granted.
If they do draft Tavares there is still the possibility that the Isles can move up and draft a mid-round defensive prospect that may have the capabilities of stepping into an NHL line-up by trading their 26th overall pick with perhaps one of their three second rounders.
There are several ways that the Isles can continue to rebuild without losing any assets, and I hope they continue to do it the way they have been so hopefully in a few years I'll be watching Okposo, Bailey, Bergenheim, and Gervais competing for the Stanley Cup against the teams that were just a few steps ahead of them.