Penguins-Red Wings: Deja Vu All Over Again

Josh McMullenCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

RALEIGH, NC - MAY 26:  The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at RBC Center on May 26, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Well, after nine months of checking, brawling, and general violence (oh, and also some goal-scoring), we’re back where we started last June—Penguins vs. Red Wings.

Here’s how McMullen’s Musings thinks Round Two will shake down:


Why the Penguins Will Win


Last year, the Penguins were runner-ups to the Red Wings in six games. The last time Pittsburgh was shown the door in embarrassing fashion? Between 2007 and 2008, when Ottawa showed the Penguins the door in five games. They responded by sweeping the Senators the next year.

A sweep won’t happen this time, but another Red Wings championship won’t either.


Complacency of the Red Wings

“Oh, we’re playing the Penguins again? This should be easy!” To quote the great Lee Corso, not so fast, my friend! Pittsburgh has gotten much better since their defeat last year, and it’ll be an uphill battle if the Red Wings get too complacent and think history will repeat itself.


Youth Is Served

Detroit’s average age: 31. Pittsburgh’s average age: 28. While Detroit has the experience to win the Cup, this edition is nearing the top of the hill and will be over it soon. They need their youth to step up in this series, or Pittsburgh will walk over them on their way to their third Cup.


Well Rounded

The Penguins have a well-rounded team of youth, talent and experience. The experienced players keep the youth on the ground, the youth gives the experience some rest, and the talent does the talking for itself.


Sid the Kid Takes Hockeytown

The X-factor in this series will be Sidney Crosby, the young leader of the Penguins. Detroit has no such thing, with Nicklas Lidstrom, the leader of their team, pushing 40. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when youth meets experience, in the form of Crosby vs. Lidstrom.

Why the Red Wings Will Win


They’ve Been Here A Million Times Before

If you look at every single layer of the Stanley Cup, you will probably see the Detroit Red Wings on each one. One might even go so far as to say that the Red Wings are the Yankees of hockey (although less evil). With a win here, this will be Detroit’s second most-successful decade ever (behind the 1950s, when they won four Cups).


Power + Experience= Cup

Detroit has powered their way through the Western Conference Playoffs, sweeping the Blue Jackets and surviving a scare from the Ducks. Just because the Penguins have youth on their side, doesn’t mean that they’ll run away with this series.


Babcock is the Best

The Red Wings have the best coach in the NHL in Mike Babcock. He knows how to win Cups (winning the last two, with Anaheim and Detroit). Dan Bylsma still needs to prove himself as a coach, but he could do it if he can beat one of the best. Somehow, though, Babcock will exploit that inexperience to win his third straight Cup.


Twin Terrors Between the Pipes

Chris Osgood is arguably the best goalie in the NHL, while Ty Conklin can come off the bench and still stymie offensive attacks. With a combined GAA of just under 3.0, it could be enough to frustrate the firm of Crosby and Malkin.


Filling Holes

Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings’ points, assists, and plus/minus leader, is listed as day-to-day with a foot injury. Andres Lilja, one of the Red Wings’ enforcers, is on injured reserve with a concussion. The Red Wings have been able to fill these holes off their bench with good talent, and it should be no different in this series. Lilja won’t be back this season, but Datsyuk will be, and that should make the Red Wings even more explosive.

Prediction: Penguins win the Cup in seven.

They’re angry over last season’s loss, and they have the talent to make a run at it. It’ll be a seesaw battle in the first four games, but the Penguins will take control after Game Six and exorcise the demons of last year in Game Seven.