Stanley Cup Playoffs: A Grande Finale Indeed!

Scott WeldonCorrespondent IJune 15, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presents the Conn Smythe trophy to Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Penguins managed to win the Stanley Cup against the odds on favourite. After getting swamped 5—0 in game five, they won two tight, critical games against a suddenly tired looking Detroit Red Wings team. The defence without Ryan Whitney looked tight. The perpetually bow string tight Marc Andre Fleury made all the saves he needed to make. Maxime Talbot scored the two goals and the Pens won the last game 2—1.

A great playoff year culminated in a wonderful seven game final series. Detroit caught a seven game series earlier against the Anaheim Ducks and looked like they could not lose. Any time I watched them in that series (and maybe I was just projecting) they played with confidence in their own inevitability. I never for an instant thought they were going to lose that series. Now and then Ryan Getzlaf took over the flow of the game but as soon as he was off the ice Detroit was in charge again. In those last two games against Pittsburgh the feeling of inevitability was gone. The juggernaut was stalled and couldn't score. Pittsburgh kept former Cup finals stars like Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom under wraps.

Injured Pavel Datsyuk came back and managed to help Detroit show the dominance we've come to expect from them in game five. After that, no one could put the puck in the net. Zetterburg led the team in chances but with nothing to show. This year it wasn't Detroit's role players, the Drapers, the Hudlers, the Filpullas, who scored the needed goal. It was Pittsburgh's role players who came through.

Detroit by the end looked battered and, dare I say it, a bit old. They spent so much time worrying about having Crosby covered with Zetterburg, Lidstrom and Raflaski that there was no one left for Malkin and certainly no set lines to try to generate offense with.

Marian Hossa completely paid his karmic debt though he might still take a little hit in the pocket book this year. This was certainly the moment for him to score two or three goals and win the cup for his new team. He won't be playing for Detroit next year and he didn't shine up his playoff credentials. 

Detroit will have to move on next year without Hossa, Samuelsson and Hudler. Their cap problems might require them to assign Draper and Holmstrom to the minors or perhaps to trade Brad Stuart to make up some cap room. Pittsburgh has Crosby and Malkin to build around but they also have $46.8 million counting against the cap and nine roster spots to fill. They need a couple NHL defenceman and, after they sign Guerin and Garon, they're might not be much money left. 

It was a great Stanley Cup finals and both teams will be competetive again next year. Congratulations Pittsburgh and great effort Detroit. It was fun to watch