Thursday, June 5, 2008

Congratulations to Detroit

Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings on winning their 11th Stanley Cup last night. They were far and away the best team in the playoffs this season. Pittsburgh prooved to be very resilient which is a good sign for their future. Despite being largely overmatched the series was still entertaining right until the end. I had expected Crosby and Malkin to learn a ton of lessons in a sweep to Detroit. Given that the Penguins had no business winning game 5 I wasnt far off. Crosby seemed to adapt quicker than Malkin who was obviously frustrated with the lack of space. Malkin did however have his best game last night.

Another special congratulations to Nicklas Listrom and Hank Zetterberg. Zetterberg was unreal, he outplayed Crosby in the series and that says alot. Lidstrom was well Lidstrom and would have also been a good Conn Smyth candidate - led by #5, Detroits D was amazing throughout the finals. Finally we can rid ourselves of the notion that a European cant captain a Stanley Cup winning team. That should have happened last year because IMO Anaheim won the series vs Detroit despite getting outplayed (captains would have been Alfredsson and Lidstrom).

Pittsburgh is in very good shape for next season as they still have Malkin and Staal in entry level contracts. Detroit also looks like a team that could repeat. They only have 39 million committed for next season but do have Zetterberg and Franzen to extend. If I were to bet today, I'd bet on a Detroit-Pittsburgh final next year too.

What does the finals say for the Oilers? I've already spent some time comparing Edmonton to Detroit here I'm not going to compare Edmonton to Pittsburgh because I dont think any team should try to duplicate building the way Pittsburgh did and expect the same calibre picks. 2 things I noticed were that that Pittsburgh got a lot better when Roberts and Sydor were back in the lineup and that having Georges Laraques was invaluable vs Philly but didnt play against Detroit. So based on this years playoffs (and numerous injuries in the last 2 seasons), the Oilers need to get tougher by adding an enforcer - even in the 13-14 forward spot (more on this later). Even Detroit has Aaron Downey. Over the course of a season, players appreciate the protection an enforcer provides. In a 7 game series against a goon squad like Philly, Anaheim or Calgary that protection is even more valuable. Also, if we are in a playoff position around trade deadline, we could also use some veteran depth. Otherwise, overall I like the direction the Oilers are heading - building a team that is skilled and can move the puck.