Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Is this the year?

There's not much room in which to be contrarian on the topic of this season's Stanley Cup Finals (which means, accordingly, that there's not much that interesting to be written about them). I agree with the majority that we're seeing the best team from each conference, and that both have a lot going for them, and that the Red Wings should be favoured and will probably prevail.

There's only one running theme to the coverage so far that I shake my head at, and a perfect example of it is from Ross McKeon at Yahoo! Sports, here:
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to win a Stanley Cup. You can bet your bottom dollar on it. It’s a lock, a sure thing, guaranteed.

But it just isn’t going to happen this year. Not against this group of Detroit Red Wings.

Guaranteed? Pffft. "A lock" and "a sure thing" are way, way overstating it. And I'm not making a semantic argument here either; I'm simply pointing out the fact that "the Penguins should be a good team for quite a while" is a major step, or steps, short of "they will definitely win a Stanley Cup". Their best chance to win is right now.

This is a tough league. There are 25 or so teams that are desperate to be the best, stocked with players who want to be the best. Several of them are going to get a lot better -- who knows which ones -- and I don't find it that easy to predict that the Penguins will keep getting better.

For all our data evaluation, things happen that we don't understand... that come out of nowhere. Hands up if you saw Pittsburgh being 3rd in Goals Against in the East this season, with both M-A Fleury and Ty Conklin being in the Top 5 in the NHL in SV%. Hellooo? Anyone? To my mind, it's a lot easier to accept that they are a very good defensive team now, than that they will be again next year.

Crosby and Malkin are both on the upswing of their careers, not at their peaks. And yet, they are 2 of the 3 best offensive players in the game (by Points/Game). There's not really a way to go up from there, and this is relevant, because the other players who will be trying to knock them out of those spots play for teams that Pittsburgh is going to have to beat to win all these future Stanleys.

And on top of that, they acquired one of the premier two-way forwards in the game at the trade deadline for depth players and futures; this is an opportunity that simply will not present itself annually.

If there's one thing that's guaranteed, it's that these Penguins are not the early Oilers. Check out the roster for the 1982-83 Edmonton Oilers. Wanna know something funny? The same 19 Oilers dressed regularly throughout that season's playoffs, which ended with a Finals sweep at the hands of the Islanders (18 skaters + Moog). 17 of them were younger for that series loss than Ryan Malone is right now. 10 of them were younger than Ryan Whitney is right now. And of course, that was before the salary cap, arbitration, early free agency, and nine additional expansion teams.

These days, a team can still be elite for years: the Red Wings have shown that (although they've also shown that this doesn't translate into annual ring fittings). But expecting it, or predicting it, is just loony.

I'm rooting for the Wings in the Finals, but I'll be OK with the Pens winning it too: the all-too-likely alternative is years of "Is this the year Crosby and (/or?) Malkin finally win the Cup?"


Though I'd love to see Le GG hoist the Cup, I doubt this series is going to be close at all. Wings in four.


Gotta disagree.

Sure, I'm a Pens fan, but Detroit commands respect from all real hockey fans, and I'm no different. The Wings are an incredible team, and they have a lot of really talented players - they have How Many championship rings between them all? - but I think Pittsburgh wants it more.

Some of the Pens are practically kids, but they're a damn talented bunch of practically-kids, and they've got the support of veterans who have helped take their game to a whole other level. Combine the veterans' experience and ability to help pace the younger guys and the adrenaline and energy those younger guys have and are giving the vets? That, my friends, is a winning combination.

The Pens franchise, more importantly their fans, and most importantly those barely-out-of-major-junior boys playing the game? They all WANT that cup more than anyone in Detroit be it the fans, franchise or players.

And I think that's going to be the deciding factor. Pens in 6.

Wings in three. This series is almost stupidly one-sided.

(Note to Penguins fans: you're welcome.)

They all WANT that cup more than anyone in Detroit be it the fans, franchise or players.

Uh oh...

Haha, if teams who "wanted" the Cup won it, we'd have thirty winners a season.

Yes but who wants it the most?

I'll tell you who.

Me. I want it more then anyone.

I will win the Cup this year. I guarantee it. I am a monster.


I don't know.

There are a lot of players on Detroit who have won, but it's been a while - especially for Osgood - and the younger players went through a major disappointment last year when they lost to Anaheim.

Who is capable of wanting something more - someone who has never had the experience before and doesn't really know what it is like, or someone who has experienced both winning and losing, and hasn't won in a while and would like to get that feeling back?

By this point I think everyone wants it - but I'm not fighting with Black Dog. Dogs bite if they don't get what they want. :)

Ozzy is going to crack again, it is only a matter of time.

Pens in 7. Malkin with the OT winner in Game 7 on a terrible 5-home from the red line.

If Detroit's starting goalie cracks, they can bring in one of the top 5 goalies in NHL history to replace him. If Pittsburgh's starting goalie cracks, they can bring in the guy with the worst performance in Stanley Cup Finals history to replace him.

It goes both ways -- when veteran teams win they're called experienced. When they lose, they're old.


That Cup is fucking mine!

Pens in 7. Malkin with the OT winner in Game 7 on a terrible 5-home from the red line.

I second this. Also, Crosby gets the credit, despite being on a bathroom break at the time.

Based on just snippets I've seen (i.e. no numbers):

Forwards: Pittsburgh by a hair
Goaltending: Detroit by a hair
Defence: Detroit by Billy Gibbons's beard
"Intangibles": Detroit has experience out the wazoo; Pittsburgh has youthful exuberance and desire. Declaring advantages here without a degree in sports psychology and daily contact with each team is foolhardy, because there's about a billion reasons why each could be good or bad, either way.

Series: Wings in 6, winner by the Mule, Smythe to Osgood, even though Lidstrom probably deserves it more.

The Pens are going to take it.

They want the Cup so much more than Detroit that they're going to will the refs to make horrible calls.

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