Just about everyone that follows hockey has the Red Wings as their favorites to win the cup. I do too, but I have some strong reasons why they'll be getting that cup against Pittsburgh for the second year in a row.
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit has an incredible offense.
With the addition of Marian Hossa this year it's just about the strongest in the NHL.
The first line, Zetterburg, Dastyuk and Holmstrom, is a powerful, speedy, balanced line that has chemistry unlike anyone else.
Zetterburg provides the speed and young talent, Dastyuk dishes out sick moves and adds veteran decisions to the line and Holmstrom simply parks himself in front of the net, annoys goalies and tips in goals.
They were the No. 1 scoring line in the league last year.
On the second line, Draper leads two young talented guys that have a knack for getting goals, Hossa and Cleary.
Franzen, of course, is a talented player that has sparked the interest of many NHL teams for next year with his sharp moves and big play ability in Detroit. Detroit's got Offense covered on their playoff run.
The first person looked at on the Red Wings defense is definitely Captain Niklas Lidstrom.
He is an incredible leader and can put some pucks in the net and on other people's tape and his partner, Brian Rafalski, can't be overlooked either.
He has had the best season of his life, putting up the most goals of a defender this season and always being an open target for Lidstrom when he needs a pass.
Then there's the second Defensive line that backs up the first one incredibly.
Chris Chelios has some people surprised he's even still in the league, and is playing darn well for a 40-year-old. He never lets a puck get by him on the blue line and can fire some strong shots on net that put out golden rebounds or get in the net.
Nicklas Kronwall is a speedy player that matches Rafalski's playing style, moving around all the time and always being open.
Brian Meech helps complete the defense, making the Wings' defense just as good as their offense.
Chris Osgood is a streaky goalie, but when he's on his game he's an all-star caliber Goal tender. He covers the puck before you can even see it and makes some crazy moves to stop the puck.
“Ozzy” is devoted to his team, but when he's having an off night, new addition Ty Conklin can cover for him. Conklin isn't a starter type goalie, but he can sure be an incredible backup.
Only getting to play a few games, he leaves it all out on the ice and gets a few shutouts and one-goal games in the process. He has proved himself with the Wings.
The Red Wings have everything covered, from Offense to Defense to Goalies.
They are a powerhouse team that doesn't like to lose.
When they get in the playoffs, you sure don't want to be playing them.
The Red Wings intimidate opponents and run through the playoffs, which is why they're my pick to repeat going to the playoffs.
Of course, when you're talking about Pittsburgh, you look at the Gruesome Twosom: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Crosby has once again been plagued by injury this season, but has driven the Pens to the playoffs since he's been back.
Even when he's having an off night, defenders just seem to mess up when they're guarding Crosby, making a nice lane for him to rifle a shot to the top corner.
Malkin is a rising star that had his first All-star year this year. He's shown what he's made of this season, putting up an impressive 78 assists and 34 goals, putting up a good fight for the most goals all season long.
Then there are highlight players like a young, energetic Jordan Staal, a 24-goal Petr Sykora, and a playmaker in Maxim Talbot.
The intimidating offense can get some fancy goals, and some garbage goals, giving them a great chance to win games.
After the return of D, Sergi Gonchar, the Pens got kicked into high gear. Gonchar is a pass-happy defenseman that gives all his players a confident feeling on the ice.
He is certainly the leader of the Pittsburgh defense, but who's backing him up like in Detroit?
Phillippe Boucher isn't that good of a player, but he's usually open at the point, providing a safety net just in case. Kris Letang has the most assists of a defender at 21, proving to be a consistent passer.
Brooks Orpik follows Letang in that aspect, adding a whole lot of assists to the scoreboard.
They have a few good passers on D, but no one is really scoring like Rafalski and Lidstrom are for the Wings.
The Penguins have a decent defense, but should beef it up if they want a title.
Marc-Andre Fleury is a very good goalie with more than a .900 save percentage.
He moves around the crease and positions well, and makes key stops in the process. However, they don't have as strong a backup this year as last.
Conklin is in Detroit now, and he is a much better Goalie than the new guy in town, Garon.
With less than .900 save percentage, he has a 7-9 record, showing he's not trusted in Pittsburgh with so little starts and more losses than wins.
So, the Pens will rely on Fleury between the pipes in the playoffs.
The Pens lost something this year with Hossa on Offense and Conklin in nets, however, the star power in Malkin, Crosby and Gonchar really get the Pens revved up and get them some key wins.
On a good note, the Penguins should be ready to play in the playoffs and will make a run back to the finals, but what will be the outcome this time?
The Wings and Pens both have incredible offenses, but the Wings definitely top them on Defense and Goaltending.
To me, the Penguins are built on "We refuse to lose" and young flashy stars, while Detroit is built of a combo of young stars and veteran smarts and leadership.
The Pens will take it to 7 games this time, but the outcome will be the same: Red Wings 4, Penguins 3.
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