I have this habit where I like to look at a playoff bracket prior to the start of the actual games and predict who I would like to see in the championship game, and whom that particular league would most want in the final for the fulfillment of their own intentions.
It should not surprise anyone that Detroit is in the Stanley Cup Finals. It doesn't surprise me, (I actually picked a Detroit/Montreal match-up) to see a team that has a surplus of outstanding two-way players succeed year after year.
Their opponent isn't much of a surprise either. Pittsburgh is an offensive powerhouse that can score at will and features some of the best young stars in the game today with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
It should not be overlooked that Pittsburgh has also been the beneficiary of some phenomenal goaltending, via Marc Andre Fleury.
To say that this is a good matchup for the NHL is an understatement.
This is huge for the NHL. Per my pre-playoff habits, I concluded that this was the best matchup for the NHL from a marketing standpoint.
You know what you get with Detroit in terms of quality of play, and it's worth pointing out that Pittsburgh really is that good. The level of talent on the ice at any given time is going to be through the roof.
This is why I did not consider the New York Rangers here. They would not have given Detroit any kind of a match.
With this match up you have two of the best teams in the NHL locking horns.
The problem with the past few Cup match-ups are the lower seeded team getting hot at the right time without the backing of any media attention prior to their run.
You don't get that with two teams who were both the top team in their respective conferences at points during the season.
Of course, there is also the players themselves. With Crosby, Malkin, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Henrik Zetterberg, you have big-time marketing potential.
NBC has the big name stars to market the hell out of this series on their own network at all times during the day without the risk of "beating a dead horse".
As far as the actual teams go, I couldn't be happier for Pittsburgh fans.
As the bandwagon becomes bigger and bigger, you can't help but feel that the fans who stuck with this team when they were terrible, and on the verge of leaving Pittsburgh altogether, really deserve this.
Conversely, Detroit fans have to be recognized as the worst fans in hockey this year.
The Red Wings have become the epitome of a successful franchise over the past decade and a half. They did not disappoint this year, leading the Western Conference wire-to-wire.
Yet the Wings were playing in front of a half full arena almost every night in Detroit.
Simply put, the Detroit Red Wing fans do not deserve for their team to be this good, and in this position.
This Stanley Cup does promise to be an exciting one with potential to go all seven games, because of the high level of talent, and roster depth it will feature.
It has incredible star power, yet a David vs. Goliath feel to it.
People knew Detroit would be here, and Pittsburgh is a once proud team on the verge of completing their resurrection.
The talent level is extremely high and that plays to Pittsburgh's advantage because they are younger and slightly deeper. I say Pittsburgh in six.
** On an unrelated note, Chris Simon has reportedly agreed to play next year in Russia. Please don't waste a moment of silence on a career that should have never been. Chris Simon, you are still a disgrace to anyone who has ever played hockey.