2009 Stanley Cup Final Preview and Pick

May 30, 2009 |

 

      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

 

                                                               Coaches

              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

 

                                                     GOALIES

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

                                                      DEFENSEMEN

      (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

                                                   RIGHT 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

                                                         LEFT 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.

       ADVANTAGE:                 PENGUINS

                                                           CENTERS

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.

               ADVANTAGE:          PENGUINS

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 5-DET

         game 6- PITT  (to clinch)

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