Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stanley Cup predictions

This has been my dream playoff draft year. I went with the Pens and Wings as the finals team in all of my drafts and am looking forward to pay day. My 3rd round predictions were bang on but they weren't exactly bold predictions. The finals prediction wont be so easy.

Redwings vs Penguins

In 1984, the young Edmonton Oilers entered Long Island against the juggernaut New York Islanders and 4 time defending Stanley Cup champions. Led by budding superstars Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier the Oilers entered the finals with relative ease including 2 sweeps and a tough 7 game series against their rivals the Calgary Flames. The Oilers would be a confident bunch had they not been handed a lesson in last years finals by the same New York Islanders.

This year, the Pittsburgh Penguins head to Detroit where the Red Wings have been the dominant team in the NHL for the past 18 years and are the defending Stanley Cup champions. Riding the excellent performances of their young superstars, Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins have had a relatively easy post season blazing by both the Flyers and a sweep of the 2006 champion Carolina Hurricanes. Their only real test so far has been their 2nd biggest rivals - Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The Penguins should be a confident team but like the 1984 Oilers, the Penguins are facing a team in the finals that beat them easily the previous year. Last years finals went to 6 games but should have been over in 4 or 5. Detroit was the much better team.

And thats about where the similarities end. Detroit is still the favorite. Its a bold move to bet against the Red Wings but I think I will. Last year, Malkin was non-existent in the playoffs. This year he has been a force. And Crosby has been better. Detroit has coasted through much of the playoffs this year but Datsyuk hasnt shown up for many games this post season and their anchor on defense, sure Hall of Famer and entering discussions for best defensemen alltime, Nicolas Lidstrom is banged up. Detroit is deeper than Pittsburgh has more experience than the Penguins but unless Datsyuk can return to form I think Crosby and Malkin will be good enough to overcome the Detroit depth. This will also be Sergei Gonchar's step into stardom. He is very underrated.

I'll admit here that I am biased in this prediction by the fact that I don't want to see Hossa shun the Oilers and pick his cup. Good on Hossa for turning down millions for his chance at the cup, I just don't want to see it. One thing I know is that the series will be closer this year than last.

In fact, its going to be epic.

Key matchup: Osgood vs Fleury
Prediction: Penguins in 7
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