I have been watching both Detroit and Pittsburgh throughout the entire playoff run thus far and stated to many friends and family that it would come down to this match up once again, the difference this time; Marian Hossa and Evgeni Malkin.
Let’s start with Malkin. Last year it didn’t seem like Malkin really had his footing in the finals which caused him to have a very hard time scoring and very hard time getting away from Euro Twins, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. This year however, Malkin has been phenomenal in the playoffs, scoring 12 goals leaving him second in scoring behind teammate Sidney Crosby. He is also tied for points in the playoffs, with Crosby, and leads with assists.
Detroit fans shouldn’t sit back and think that this will be an easy series for the defending champs who last year, with a struggling Malkin, took the cup in six games.
Pittsburgh was a strong team then and is an even stronger team this year, however what could be the difference maker is the newest addition to the Red Wings roster; former Pittsburgh Penguin Marian Hossa.
Hossa came to Detroit at the beginning of the season wanting to win the Stanley Cup. He came so close last year and the only thing that stood in his way was Detroit, and Detroit fans were happy to have him come. Fans probably remember the final seconds in Game Six when a Sidney Crosby shot went just wide and very determined Marian Hossa came with the rebound with a last chance effort to tie the game. We all know how that ended but now it’s Hossa’s chance to win his first Stanley Cup.
Hossa seemed to be struggling as the playoffs started but it wasn’t until Game Four against Chicago that Hossa tacked on two more goals to his four goals in the playoffs and started to get his game going. I doubt Hossa would want to lose to his former team in the finals and I believe that will really get him going to dominate in the series.
As an avid Red Wings fan, I know that this series will be once again very fun to watch. Johan Franzen has once again been blowing fans away with his performance in the playoffs scoring 10 goals and Darren Helm has seemed to be the hero for Detroit with his unbelievable speed and his overtime game-winning goal to take the series against Chicago on Wednesday.
Goaltender Chris Osgood has also been very strong and is making key saves.
However, Detroit still needs to be on the lookout and needs to contain players like Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal.
Another good sign for Detroit is that captain Nicklas Lidstrom and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will be back in the lineup for Game One after injuries. Pavel Datsyuk, however, will be a game day decision and fans really look forward to his return.
Detroit fans also have to wonder if Crosby touching the Prince of Wales Trophy will be a jinx for his team and the fact that the referees have not exactly been letting Detroit get away with much.
This should be a great series to watch as it begins Saturday at 8 p.m. in Detroit and as far as who will take the series and the Stanley Cup, I believe Detroit takes it in six.