NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

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NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

The 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs are coming to their climax.  The President's Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in this year's finals.  Both teams are very deep, but who will take home the prize?

Offense: 

Detroit has some of the best forwards in the game.  Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are a dynamic duo, and they are only two of many great forwards the Wings have. 

Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen are a goalie's worst nightmare, and Marc-Andre Fleury will have to deal with a lot of harassment in his crease. 

Kris Draper is one of the best two-way centers in the game today.  Everyone in Detroit's line-up can chip in on defense and goal-scoring. 

Pittsburgh is built the same way.  No matter who is in the lineup, they can chip in. 

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are Pittsburgh's dynamic duo.  Jordan Staal is the shutdown two-way center but he also scores his share of goals. 

Garbage goals aren't really the Penguins' forte, but they know how to score them too.  Marian Hossa is a sniper, but he can crash with the best of them.  He knows where to be on the ice to take advantage of scoring opportunities. 

Maxime Talbot and Tyler Kennedy can add energy to the game and chip in offensively.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Defense: 

Pittsburgh has one of the most underrated defensive corps in the NHL.

Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney move the puck extremely well, while Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, and Brooks Orpik shut down the opposition. 

Kris Letang is a great rookie defenseman who can play both offensively and defensively well.  They also get a lot of help from their offensive partners. 

Detroit has some of the best defenseman in the league. 

Nicklas Lidstrom is an annual nominee/winner of the Norris trophy, and offseason free agent acquisition Brian Rafalski blends in nicely. 

No one on the Detrot defense slacks, they all play hard at all times.  Nicklas Kronwall has had many highlight hits this post season. 

They also move the puck well and with Selke nominees Henrik Zetterberg, and Pavel Datsyuk they don't give up many shots.

Advantage: Detroit

Goaltending:

Chris Osgood is a very underrated goalie.  He makes the stops he has to make. 

However he isn't as proven as Marc-Andre Fleury this postseason. 

Osgood has the experience advantage, but Fleury has shown a knack to make the spectacular save time and time again.  One reason is Detroit doesn't give up many shots or good scoring opportunities.  Marc-Andre Fleury has just played solid since coming back from his injury.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Experience:

Pittsburgh has not won a Stanley Cup since 1992, while Detroit last won one in 2002. 

Only three current Penguins have won a Stanley Cup (Darryl Sydor (2), Petr Sykora, and Gary Roberts) none of whom did so with Pittsburgh. 

Detroit usually goes deep into the playoffs, while this is only the second time in the past seven NHL seasons the Penguins have made the playoffs.

Advantage: Detroit

Who I'm Picking:

This should be one of the best Stanley Cup Finals series in a long time.  These two teams could be tops in the league for many years. 

Both teams have looked like unstoppable forces in the playoffs this year, but I believe the Penguins have played better teams than Detroit. 

Ottawa was the only weak team the Penguins played against.  Detroit struggled a little against Nashville, and looked like they didn't want to beat Dallas until the 4-1 beating they put on in Dallas for game six. 

The Penguins need to keep the pressure on Detroit's defense and Chris Osgood, force turnovers, and make the Red Wings make mistakes. 

They also need to make sure guys like Holmstrom can't camp out in front of Fleury and clear the crease. 

The Red Wings need to stick to their plan.  They need to make sure their defense can contain Pittsburgh's explosive offense, and they need to get shots at Marc-Andre Fleury and crash the net.

Pick: Pittsburgh in six games

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