Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Stanley Cup Final preview

On Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins, both teams just four wins away from lifting the Holy Grail of Hockey.

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings are trying to become the first team to successfully defend their title since…they did it back in 1998.

For Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, they’re looking to avenge last year’s loss and win the first of (they hope) many Cups. This year is the first time since 1984 that we’ve seen two teams meet up in the Final two straight seasons.

Back then, it was the upstart Edmonton Oilers and the veteran Islanders. In the second meeting, the Oil stopped New York’s streak of four straight Stanley Cups, winning their first as a franchise – and first of four in the next five years.

A lot of comparisons are being drawn between this series and that series…but really, beyond the similar storyline there’s not much in it.

Detroit’s superstars haven’t put up numbers like Pittsburgh’s have, but this is a whole new series. The good news for the Wings is that they should have Nick Lidstrom back in the lineup to counter the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins have a relentless attack, averaging over 30 shots a game while allowing about 28…but so do the Red Wings, with almost identical statistics.
Both teams average over 3.5 goals per game (3.82 to 3.69 for Pittsburgh), the Pens tend to allow slightly more goals against (2.12 for Detroit, 2.76 for the Pens).

When it comes to special teams, the Wings power play has an edge (by 6.4%), but on the penalty kill the Penguins have almost a 10% advantage.

Basically what I’m saying is, it’s going to be a tight series that’ll probably come down to execution on special teams.

A lot is being made about the Penguins being the young upstart team, but I don't see it being much of a factor. The average age on their active roster is about 28 years, compared to 30.5 for the Red Wings (though it’s under 30 without Chris Chelios’ 47 years!).

For the superstitious types: Sidney Crosby and company touched the Prince of Wales trophy; Henrik Zetterberg didn't touch the Clarence S. Campbel bowl.

One other question that will be answered is: Did Marian Hossa make the right choice?

Hossa was with the Penguins last season but decided to make the jump to the Champions in the offseason. I'm sure theres a little bit of bad blood that'll come to a boil once this series gets underway!

The Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday night at 6pm in Detroit!


Let Kerrzy read it to you here:

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