Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Alan Ryder at the Globe & Mail,
Detroit 53, Pittsburgh 46.
It is not the halftime score of a basketball game but the percentage success rates of the Red Wings and Penguins in the faceoff circle. These numbers might seem close to you, but they are a rink apart. One of these teams led the NHL in faceoff winning percentage and the other was dead last.
It could be that the story of this year’s Stanley Cup final is told by this gap. The faceoff is the first step to puck possession. And control of the puck is the first step to winning. The statistical evidence is that Detroit will own the puck in this series. That does not bode well for the Penguins.
From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News,
Now, I know the anti-fun militia won’t like this, but let’s take a cue from the most successful sport in North America – NFL football – and schedule some sort of pre-final Stanley Cup extravaganza. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, you can’t turn around without hearing about some sort of event hyping up what usually turns out to be a mediocre game (and in Canada, we don’t even get to see the good commercials).
Let’s have a fanfest. Bands will play, the Cup will be there, Mark Messier will sign autographs and give out bags of potato chips – it’ll be fun. This year, an event in Detroit could have featured Kid Rock and Bob Probert. Pittsburgh could counter with Mario Lemieux and a reunion of his buddies from the 1991 and ’92 Cup teams. Bring the kids, we’ll party until at least 9:30.
Note: Perhaps an octopus-taste-test in Detroit counts as a fanfest?
From the Globe & Mail,
How did these teams end up on hockey’s biggest stage? In part, super scouting.
A well-used hockey saying goes like this: “Great players make great coaches.” That’s true.
The corollary: Great scouts make great general managers. (Ask Wings GM Ken Holland.) Take it a step further, and scouts make GMs look good by acquiring the right players either through the draft, trades or signings.
It’s not a secret: Scouting is the life blood of any successful hockey team.
more on the scouting backgrounds of the two finalists
Update 8:11am ET: Dan Rosen at NHL.com has more on team-building on the Pittsburgh side, going back to the Craig Patrick era.
From Dr. Larry Lauer at NHL.com,
The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins now stand four wins away from achieving their mission—winning the Stanley Cup. But just making it to the Stanley Cup Final is an accomplishment. The long journey begins with the preseason, carried through the grind of 82 regular-season games, and then six weeks of physical, intense playoff hockey.
This has to be truly one of most exciting times in a player’s career—the anticipation of a championship, the anxiety of the “what will it be like” and “everyone is watching,” the confidence of having disposed of three tough opponents, and the desire to make an impact in the biggest series of your life.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Still, it’ll be the Lidstrom versus Crosby confrontation that will be worth the price of admission.
Aside from his obvious talent, it’s Crosby’s industriousness and strength on his skates that truly make him a handful. Lidstrom, of course, has made a living playing against the best forwards on the opposing roster every night for 16 years, playing more of a contain-type game than an attacking one and rarely being caught out of position.
If Babcock goes for this matchup in Detroit, it will be intriguing to see whether Penguins head coach Michel Therrien accepts it, or tries to get Crosby away from the multiple Norris Trophy winner.
from Ryan White of the Oregonian,
Watch. Watch for the little things. Watch the way Lidstrom holds the puck a second longer than anyone else, and opens up a world of passing lanes. Watch the way Crosby finds lanes not even Lidstrom could imagine. Watch Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Malkin move through traffic, so calm in the middle of so much chaos.
Watch what should be one of the best Cup finals in a long, long time. Go ahead. Do it. You work hard. You deserve the pleasure this series should provide.
from Empty Netters,
What if the Penguins win the Cup?
continued... and that was enough Cup talk Seth!
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Declared dead after the lockout of 2004-05, the league is now being hyped as prime for the mass-market breakthrough it has yearned for since Commissioner Gary Bettman was in short pants.
Its showcase event, the Stanley Cup finals, will begin Saturday in Detroit with Crosby and Fleury’s whiz-kid Pittsburgh Penguins facing Lidstrom’s savvy Red Wings. The games should be entertaining, with clear storylines:
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
A matchup of the two best teams in hockey, something of a rare occurrence in hockey and a series where a great many in the business of sports forecasting would be willing to just throw up their hands and yell “pick’em”.
But not your humble Sportsnet. ca correspondent.
What follows is an expanded Sportsnet.ca breakdown complete with an overview, an explanation of what both teams need to do to win, an analysis of the key players and, as always, an unshakeable prediction in regards to how it will all turn out.
You don’t have to thank me now, but feel free to send a cheque in my name to any charity of your choice including the Kelley’s Kids foundation a group that has had it’s hand in my wallet for decades.
from the Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
If Malkin is sensational, I think Pittsburgh wins the cup. If he is just average, or disappears, as he was sometimes prone to do before he blew up in the second half of this season, Detroit wins.
Sure, it’s a lot more complicated than that. But I’m a simpleton. And simply put, Malkin’s play, more than any other single factor, will decide the Stanley Cup Champion.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org