Penguins vs. Red Wings Stanley Cup Finals Preview
The Stanley Cup Finals are finally set, and a rematch is in order. The defending champion Detroit Red Wings will once again take on the young Pittsburgh Penguins. The Finals are set to begin on Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 pm Eastern. The Red Wings have home ice and as such the series will start in Detroit.
It's the first time that the Stanley Cup Finals will see a rematch from the year before since the New York Islanders met the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 and 1984 Finals. In the second match up, the dominant run of the Islanders came to a close as the young Oilers, led by a wildly talented pair you may have heard of, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, emerged as the top team in the league.
The similarities to the teams and players here are quite glaring, but will Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin be able to succeed in their second opportunity? Or will the dominant run of the Red Wings continue for another year, as they become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since, well, the Red Wings, in 1997 and 1998.
While the match up in the Stanley Cup Finals remains the same as last year's, there are many differences between the teams. To begin with, Detroit is another year older, and is heading into the final round of the postseason banged up. Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk have both missed time, as has Kris Draper. Meanwhile, Dan Cleary has emerged as a serious scoring threat in the last two rounds, Johan Franzen has continued to prove his value and the team has added depth with the likes of Marian Hossa.
The Penguins aren't another year older, they are a year more experienced. The team seems driven to complete its goal of winning the Stanley Cup, and the best players are leading the effort. Both Crosby and Malkin have been playing sensational, and when both of them are on their A game it's hard for another team to match up with them. Both have 28 points in the postseason, as Crosby dominated the Washington Capitals series and Malkin dominated the Carolina Hurricanes series and had a 6 game streak of multipoint games.
Role players have been coming up large for the Penguins as well. Late acquisition and veteran player Bill Guerin has 14 points in the playoffs and players such as Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko, Kris Letang, Phillippe Boucher and Maxime Talbot have all made their presences felt. The sometimes inconsistent Marc Andre Fleury has turned on the magic and has been sensational in net, and will be facing an equally stout goaltender in Detroit's Chris Osgood.
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So how will the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals play out? As solid and deep as the Red Wings are, they have shown some weaknesses in this postseason. The speed and offensive firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks at time gave them trouble, while the physical play of the Anaheim Ducks did as well.
Pittsburgh of course has the firepower, and can also bring the physical game, particularly against the older Detroit lineup. Detroit can send out their top defensive players to try to harness either Crosby or Malkin, but not both. Pittsburgh on the other hand can stymie the Red Wings attack in part through their own, by keeping on the pressure and increasing the pace of the game.
If Fleury doesn't meltdown against the pinpoint attacks of Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Hossa and crew, then Detroit won't be able to keep up. While the Red Wings have shown they are still an amazing team, the Penguins will not be denied in their second bid to become Stanley Cup Champions.
The Penguins will win the Stanley Cup Finals over the Red Wings, celebrating the return of Lord Stanley's Cup to Pittsburgh on home ice after game 6.
By Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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