After the first three rounds my pick percentage isn’t all that great. I am 8-6 after splitting the conference finals. Hockey probably is the least predictable playoff, so I don’t feel too bad. Mainly one team haunted me throughout. So, without further ado, here are my results from last round and my preview of the finals.
RESULTS MY PICK
DET/CHI Red Wings in 5 Red Wings in 6
I pretty much had this one called. Detroit dominated.
PIT/CAR Penguins in 4 Hurricanes in 6
Carolina was my Achilles heel. I couldn’t figure them out. I picked against them in the first two rounds, then I jumped on the bandwagon and they didn’t show up. So I took an 0 for 3 in Hurricanes series’.
2009 Stanley Cup Finals
Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
season series 1 1
Mike Babcock Dan Bylsma
282 Regular season wins 18 regular season wins
55-28 playoff record and 1 Cup 12-5 playoff record
Dan Bylsma took over late in the season and has turned out to be the perfect leader of this team. I think both coaches are the right man for the job they are in, but there is one difference. If coaching does become an issue; I’ll go with the guy that has coached in two Cup Finals, over the man coaching only his 43rd game ever.
ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS
30 Chris Osgood 29 Marc-Andre Fleury
12-4 2.06 GAA 92.5% 12-5 2.62 GAA 90.6%
29 Ty Conklin 32 Mathieu Garon
1 playoff appearance this year No 2009 playoff stats
I have never been a huge fan of Chris Osgood. I’ve always felt he was more lucky then good. Sometimes you have to admit when you may be wrong. He is on the verge of winning his third Cup as a starting goalie and he is doing it in style. He has outplayed Fleury so far in the playoffs, but he will be facing an offensive onslaught he has not yet seen this playoff. For Pittsburgh to win Fleury will have to really step up his game. If something were to happen to either starter, both teams have an experienced backup that won’t be overwhelmed by the situation.
ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS
(stats are avg. ice time/goals/assists/ plus-minus in playoffs)
5 Niklas Lidstrom 55 Sergei Gonchar
26 min 4G 9A 7 23 min 2G 10A 3
23 Brad Stuart 4 Rob Scuderi
25 min 1G 6A 8 21 min 1G 2A 4
55 Niklas Kronwall 44 Brooks Orpik
24 min 1G 6A 4 20 min 0G 4A -1
28 Brian Rafalski 2 Hal Gill
23 min 2G 6A 8 20 min 0G 2A 6
52 Jonathan Ericsson 58 Kris Letang
20 min 2G 3A 8 19 min 3G 6A 3
22 Brett Lebda 7 Mark Eaton
14 min 0G 6A 7 18 min 4G 2A 10
It is clear that overall the Red Wings have the more offensive blue line players. Pittsburgh doesn’t expect much offense from Brooks Orpik and Hal Gill. Their job is going to be solely judged on how physical they are with the Red Wings forwards. Lidstrom is not 100 percent and that is sure to effect his play. Gonchar has also been injury prone this season. He cannot have problems in this series, because his power play passing is essential to Pittsburgh’s chances. Mark Eaton has been a great surprise for Pittsburgh in the playoffs…. can he sustain that level of play. The Red Wings are just so deep at this position with Stuart, Rafalski, and Kronwall helping perennial Norris nominee Lidstrom that I can’t go against them.
ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS
81 Marian Hossa 13 Bill Guerin
19 min 6G 6A 5 17 min 7G 7A 11
93 Johan Franzen 25 Maxime Talbot
20 min 10G 9A 9 15 min 4G 3A 4
11 Daniel Cleary 81 Miroslav Satan
17 min 8G 6A 16 11 min 1G 5A 5
As much as I love Bill Guerin, and I do think he is a great player and very important addition to this team, this position is really no contest. Johan Franzen and ex-Pen Marian Hossa are two of the best in the league. Cleary, who is the clear third RW on Detroit, has an unbelievable plus 16 rating in these playoffs. Satan and Talbot are good players and complement their centers well, but the numbers say it all. Pittsburgh’s three have combined for 12 goals and 15 assists, Detroit’s have scored 24 goals and 21 assists in one less game.
ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS
40 Henrik Zetterberg 14 Chris Kunitz
22 min 9G 9A 10 17 min 1G 11A 6
96 Tomas Holmstrom 26 Ruslan Fedotenko
14 min 2G 3A 1 14 min 6G 5A 6
37 Mikael Samuelsson 24 Matt Cooke
15 min 5G 4A 6 15 min 1G 6A -2
On the surface this may look like a cake walk for Detroit as well, but I disagree. Zetterberg is one of the best around, but Samuelsson and Holmstrom(especially) have not played to their potential in the playoffs. Holmstrom only has a plus/minus of one, that is completely unacceptable for him. On Pittsburgh’s side, Fedotenko has really raised his game in crunch time for the Pens. Kunitz and Cooke are very scrappy players that make the other side work. Kunitz, in addition, brings Stanley Cup winning experience from his time in Anaheim and his 11 assists shows he knows how to get the puck to the real scorers on his team.
13 Pavel Datsyuk 87 Sidney Crosby
20 min 1G 6A 4 22 min 14G 14A 12
51 Valterri Filppula 71 Evgeni Malkin
17 min 1G 13A 9 21 min 12G 16A 3
26 Jiri Hudler 11 Jordan Staal
14 min 4G 5A 2 20 min 2G 4A -5
43 Darren Helm 38 Tyler Kennedy
11 min 3G 0A 2 14 min 3G 3A -3
Datsyuk will not even play in game one, which will mean more playing time for Darren Helm. That could be good or bad depending on whether he is intimidated by the situation. If not, he brings a lot of energy to a tired and injured Red Wings team. Like RW, this is a mismatch statistically. Pittsburgh has possibly the two best centers in the entire NHL. Crosby is the man, but Malkin has my vote for MVP. The four Penguins centers have combined for 31 goals and 37 assists in the playoffs to only 9 goals and 24 assists for Detroit. It’s hard to give this so easily to Pittsburgh since Hudler and Filppula are fine players, but there really is no contest here. The one thing Pittsburgh needs to worry about is Staal’s scarily low plus/minus(-5) on a team that won 12 of 17 games.
ANALYSIS: This series is going to be determined by how the Red Wings defense slows down the two most prolific guys they’ve seen all playoffs, in Crosby and Malkin. The flip side of having such good puckhandlers and scorers on defense is that they haven’t exactly been locking down the opposing teams scorers. This is particularly evident in the penalty kill unit which has been mediocre at best. They will really have to focus on slowing down Sergei Gonchar, who has been on fire on the power play. In last years finals after Pittsburgh got their feet wet, the last four games were played very evenly, now the Penguins know what to expect. The Red Wings on the other hand have been here many times before and will not be overwhelmed by the moment. If I go down player by player and analyze the entire roster, Detroit has the better team, but this year it might not be enough. That maturation of Malkin and Crosby, combined with the injuries to some of the Wings best players; makes me think that time and the intangibles are on the Penguins side this year. Detroit will not go out without a fight, even if Lidstrom and Datsyuk can’t play; so Pittsburgh will have to be mentally tough enough to capitalize on their physical advantages. I think they will be.
MY PICK: Penguins in 6
game 1- PITT
game 2- DET
game 3- PITT
game 4- PITT
game 6- PITT (to clinch)