Stanley Cup Finals: Do or Die for Pittsburgh

Greg RiotAnalyst IJune 9, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 06:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings during Game Five of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 9, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

History has a tendency of repeating itself.

Just one year after the Detroit Red Wings started the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-0 series lead, they again head back to Pittsburgh with a 3-2 series lead and the opportunity to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup in Penguin territory.

But as on-line sports betting handicappers check the sports book, the odds makers are favoring a Game 7 in this series.

So far, each team has held serve throughout the Finals, winning each of their home games. That’s fine for Detroit, but Pittsburgh knows they need to steal a game somewhere.

They have to win at home again in order to get a chance to steal Game 7 on the road.

History will be against the Penguins, though.

In 14 of the last 19 series where the Finals were knotted at 2-2, the team that won Game 5 went on to win the series.

For the Penguins, the math is simple. Their stars have to lead the way.

For the Red Wings, their team has far more depth than the Penguins, which is why they can go four games without MVP candidate Pavel Datsyuk. In Pittsburgh’s case, their success is directly tied to stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

In the Penguins three losses, Malkin and Crosby have combined for just two points and a minus-six rating. That’s a stark contrast to how those two All-Star centers performed in the first three rounds of the playoffs, averaging a combined 3.3 points per game.

In the Penguins two wins in the Finals, Malkin and Crosby have combined for eight points.

Pittsburgh will have to compose themselves a little better in Game 5—which was a 5-0 loss to the Red Wings.

NHL betting fans know that they can’t again take 12 penalties and expect to win. They have been shutout just one other time this postseason, losing 3-0 to Philadelphia in Game 5 of the first round, but rebounded with a 6-3 win in the following game.

The Penguins had scored a goal in the first period in 10 consecutive playoffs games prior to Game 5 and that will be key once again. Not only that, the first goal of the game will be important to set the tone. The team that has scored first has is 4-1 in this series.

The Penguins fell apart in Game 5 but should be much more confident in Game 6. Look for a bounce-back effort from Marc-Andre Fleury as the Penguins force an ultimate Game 7 back in Detroit on Friday.