Saturday May 30, 2009, 8:00 PM EDT
How They Got Here:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have made their way back to the Stanley Cup Finals after losing here a year ago—to the same team—in six games.
The fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins have powered their way through the playoffs, led by their young captain, Sidney Crosby.
Crosby, just 21 years old, has 28 points this postseason, matched also by teammate Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin has plummeted the opposing goalies with a total 80 shots on goal. He has scored 12 times, surpassed by Crosby's 14.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has won 12 of 17 playoff games, saving 91 percent of the shots that have come his way.
The Detroit Red Wings return to the Stanley Cup Finals to defend their trophy and their honor.
After beating Pittsburgh in the 2008 campaign, the Red Wings finished second in the Western Conference behind the San Jose Sharks, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Detroit's playoff run hasn't been without a scare though.
Johan Franzen has led the offensive charge, scoring 10 goals in 17 games. His teammate Valtteri Filppula adds 13 assists.
Marion Hossa, a Penguin just last year, has kept opposing goalies busy with 77 shots on goal.
Detroit's star net-minder Chris Osgood as been incredible to say the least. He has won 12 games with an astounding save percentage of .925.
In the postseason alone, Pittsburgh is outscoring their opponents 65-47. Sixteen of the goals have come off the power play.
In 17 games, the Penguins have only allowed 10 power play goals.
Fleury has 445 saves with a GAA of 2.62.
Detroit, on the other hand, has scored 59 goals, but has only allowed 34.
Fifteen of those were allowed coming off the power play, while scoring 19 power play goals of their own.
Osgood has 417 saves with a GAA of 2.06.
Pittsburgh Wins the Cup if...
...they continue to dominate on offense. Twenty times the Penguins had the puck in the net in their series sweep of Carolina. That's five per game people. The Crosby/Malkin combo is going to give Osgood a run for his money.
But Pittsburgh cannot rely too heavily on their 2 stars. To beat Detroit's defense, the Penguins will need contribution from every player on the ice.
Fleury will have to play his best. Giving up 47 goals in 17 games is OK if your team is scoring 65, but I doubt that the Pens are going to have those numbers against a good Detroit defense.
Detroit wins the Cup if...
...Osgood is "as good" as he has been the whole postseason.
Averaging just over two goals a game should be enough to secure their second straight defeat of Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals.
But nobody is perfect. Osgood will have his hands full with Crosby and Malkin swarming his post. He will need help from his line to keep them from getting clear shots.
Marian Hossa will also be on a mission to prove that he made the right decision in leaving the Penguins for the Motor City. He'll play inspired hockey against his former teammates to insure that he gets the last laugh.
With solid, consistent defensive play, Detroit should be able to hoist up the Stanley Cup once again.