Stanley Cup FInals: To Be the Man, You Gotta Beat the Man

Ryan LarimoreContributor IMay 28, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 02:  Sidney Crosby #87 celebrates with Marian Hossa #18  after Hossa scored a first period goal against the Detroit Red Wings during game five of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 2, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After breezing through the conference finals the Red Wings and Penguins have set another June date for this match made in Heaven.

Many of the same story lines apply from last year, but there are a few new twists in this year’s rendition of Wings vs. Pens.

The most obvious story line is Marian Hossa—and the red sweater he is now wearing. Last year he led the cup finals in points, but ended up on the losing side.

Bolting to the Red Wings for his “best chance to win the Cup,” he finds himself face to face with the very team he left. Did he make the right call?

The Penguins' new coach is also a huge factor. Early in the season, it appeared all the talk of the Penguins being competitive for years to come was a joke.  But then Dan Bylsma suddenly had them back on the right path, and in a march to the Stanley cup Finals.

Sid the Kid, and Malkin really seem to be firing on all cylinders—and much of that credit goes to Bylsma.

The Red Wings' health is probably the heaviest-weighing factor in this series at the moment. The Red Wings were able to put away the Blackhawks without the likes of Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Lidstrom , Pavel Datsyuk, and Kris Draper. Obviously, they would like to have those guys back, but the NHL rushing the Stanley Cup Finals date up almost a week, could throw a wrench into that plan.

For My prediction on this series, check out my Back to Back Article!


Bad luck?

Much has been made of the “to touch the conference trophy, or not to touch the conference trophy” question.

Sid didn’t last year, and lost.

In defiance of the superstition this year, he did grab the trophy.

The problem with that is if you are touching  the trophy to try and reverse a superstition, you are still worried about luck.

Zetterberg and the Red Wings don’t touch the Western trophy because it is not the one they want. They are all about the cup. No superstition involved.


I first heard of this new marketing scheme while interning at my local sports talk station. We sort of shrugged it off as a knock off of Detroit’s self-proclaimed “Hockeytown” moniker. It was cute back then, Pittsburgh trying to be like Detroit, flattering right? 

Fast forward to now, and reading some of the Pittsburgh message boards, Penguin fans really believe that they are the true hockeytown.  You can save your typing fingers, Pens fans. I know what you will type, and I can debunk most of your points.


Hockeytahn Myth No. 1: The Penguins sold out more playoff games last season.

Hockeytown Truth: This one is easy, the rest of the playoff rounds are old hat for the Wings fans here. Sure it is a great atmosphere, but the Red Wings have set the bar so high for the last 15 years and many fans save their money for the finals. It is easy to sell out when everything is new and exciting!


Hockeytahn Myth No. 2: The ratings for the Finals on NBC/Versus last year were higher in Pittsburgh than they were in Detroit.

Hockeytown Truth:  Much of Metro Detroit gets CBC from Canada, and since the Hockey Night in Canada knows a heck of a lot more about  hockey than Versus, most knowledgeable Red Wing fans tune in on CBC if possible.  Thus the Detroit ratings on Versus and NBC would be lower.


Hockeytahn Myth No. 3: Pens fans are more passionate than Red Wings Fans.

Hockeytown Truth:  I think fans of both clubs are equally passionate, and they both desire the same thing.   The difference again, being the Pens fans are relatively new to this playoff thing.


Am I missing anything here? As the great Ric Flair said, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man." The same applies for the United States Hockeytown Title.