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Stanley Cup Finals: Penguins and Red Wings Bring Us a Rare Symmetry in Sports

RALEIGH, NC - MAY 26:  Sidney Crosby #87, Sergei Gonchar #55 and Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the Prince of Wales trophy after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at RBC Center May 26, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Chris GrayContributor IMay 30, 2009

Imagine if Larry Fitzgerald had signed with Pittsburgh to start this season, only to see Pittsburgh lose in a rematch to Arizona.  How about if Evan Longoria were to join the Phillies and lose to the Rays this year?  Or if Lamar Odom signed with the Celtics last offseason, only to lose to the Lakers in the finals of the current NBA playoffs. 

Sports doesn’t often offer us perfect symmetry such as we see on the horizon in this year’s NHL playoffs.  In addition to some very intriguing historic parallels, we are soon to be treated this year to a case of perfect symmetry that I can’t recall ever arising before.

Rewind a little bit over a year. 

In a trade deadline deal, the Pittsburgh Penguins trade away a package including one of their most popular players Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, and Angelo Esposito for Pascal Dupuis (now seen as a throw-in, not even playing in the playoffs), and Marian Hossa, whom the Penguins viewed as the last piece to carry them to their first Stanley Cup in almost two decades.

They were almost right.  Unfortunately, Hossa, and the all of the upstart Pens not named Crosby underperformed. Someone forgot to clear this plan with the Detroit Red Wings, and in the end the Red Wing Dynasty won yet another cup in six games.

Fast forward a few months to last offseason. 

Marian Hossa, admirably willing to forgot the huge payday, was looking for a team to sign with to gain the best chance possible for an elusive cup win.

After coming close in Pittsburgh and never coming close in Ottawa, the most obvious choice was right in front of his face.  The team that handled the offensive star—power of the Pens so easily, those Red Wings.

At the beginning of these playoffs I saw it coming—Marian Hossa will be on the losing end of both sides of a Stanley Cup Final matchup between the same two teams in back to back years.

The Red Wings are bruised up. 

The Penguins are soaring.  Malkin has shown up this year, Crosby is playing up to the caliber of his former landlord (thanks for the guidance, Mario!), Fleury is doing all that can be asked of a goalie on an offensive team (keep us in the game, Marc-André!), and the rest of the supporting cast, from young Staal to ageless Guerin, are all firing on all cylinders.  

I don’t think anybody on the Red Wings has ever seen the likes of which is about to be thrown at them (no offense, Kane, Toews and co.).

It’s going to happen.

Symmetry in sports.

Penguins in six (if not five).

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