Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ian Mendes of Sportsnet,
So as I sit here in the terminal waiting to board my flight to Windsor (sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?), here are my five notable things to look for in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
This series will be a showcase of the greatest skill and talent the game has to offer. But instead of watching this marvelous display of hockey artistry from the luxury of a modern facility, we will be confined to Joe Louis and Mellon Arena. This is like watching a Broadway performance of Les Miserables from a dinner theatre at your local Denny’s. It just doesn’t seem right.
After six weeks of marathon hockey, the stage is finally set for a Stanley Cup Final between the game’s marquee player and the game’s marquee franchise. At one end of the ice, it’s arguably the NHL’s best-run club in the Detroit Red Wings. At the other end, it’s a young and fiery Pittsburgh Penguins club led by Sidney Crosby.
And though both teams share the moniker as the NHL’s cream of the crop, their paths to glory have been very different.
In Pittsburgh, the Penguins were slowly and painstakingly built up from scratch.
From Paul Kukla at NHL.com,
I am taking a different approach today and will officially welcome you to the Metro Detroit area. I ask you to forget all the negative things you have read and heard about Motown. Sure there are areas you want to avoid, just like every large city in the world. Instead I will point out how the folks in Southeast Michigan will welcome you with open arms. We are a hard working bunch, and although this area is suffering through a down-turn in the automotive industry, we still are trying to keep our heads above water. Approach us, talk to us, we don’t bite and want to talk hockey with you and get your feelings on our game.
Michiganders love hockey, we love that is all that is good about the sport. It is in our blood and we have been playing in the NHL since the mid-1920’s. Our father’s father passed the game on to us. Our mother’s know the game too. We appreciate the special talents each and every NHL player has. We are amazed and hypnotized by the action on the ice and we feel part of the Detroit Red Wings family. Plain and simple, we are hockey fans.
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
There will be a lot written and said in the lead up to Saturday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals between the perennial power Red Wings and the powerfully young Penguins.
Everyone, myself included, will try to dissect this very interesting matchup between two highly skilled clubs that didn’t skate against each other during the regular season. (Even if they did play once, what would we really know?)
There is one thing that stands out about Detroit and Pittsburgh. They both do really well when they score first.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
We haven’t seen a team boast this much world-class talent down the middle since maybe Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg were in their prime in Colorado. Start with Crosby, who centers the Pens’ “1A” line. Then go to Malkin, who centers line “1B.” The Wings will have their hands full regardless of how good their defense is (and it’s plenty good). Crosby and Malkin have combined for 40 points in 14 postseason games, and Crosby will hit the finals tied with Zetterberg for the playoffs scoring lead. Almost lost in the shuffle is Pittsburgh third-line center Jordan Staal, who had a terrific series against Philadelphia (four goals).
more and Scott’s prediciton for the SCF…
Empty Netters has entertained me during this season and I really do enjoy many of the videos they have pointed out this season.
So as they say, here is the Best Penguins YouTube Video We Could Find:
Barry likes Detroit- experience counts!
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
For the most part, these teams can match each other in a lot of categories, but the Wings have large advantages in two areas.
First, they have all kinds of experience. Indeed, it’s surprising in this era of constant personnel turnover that Detroit still has eight players from its 2002 Cup-winning roster, although Hasek and Darren McCarty went away and came back in the interim. Steve Yzerman was the captain of that team and he’s now in the Detroit front office, which is led by GM Ken Holland and includes many of the same suits and bird dogs.
These people know how to win and have done it together.
Second, well, it’s simply the presence of Lidstrom, hockey’s premier defenceman.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal? They aren’t going anywhere. Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Malone? That’s a bit more problematic. Marian Hossa and Brooks Orpik? It has been nice knowing those guys, and their major contributions to what could be a Stanley Cup team will never be forgotten by an appreciative franchise and city.
What a hectic offseason it will be for Penguins general manager Ray Shero, one he hopes won’t begin until after a Cup victory parade through town next month. Only one thing is certain: The team that has dazzled during these playoffs by going 12-2 and advancing to the Cup final won’t be the same. Just how much it will change is the pertinent question.
Signing Fleury and Malkin to long-term deals has to be priorities No. 1 and 1A for Shero. How nice must it be to be in their shoes? They are about to become filthy rich.
added 7:15am, from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The truth is that this team, as currently constituted, has a limited shelf life. Seven more games, max.
Not just because NHL rosters are almost constantly in a state of flux, with pieces being added or removed. The Penguins aren’t facing the usual offseason personnel changes all teams experience; they’re facing the possibility of something more like a seismic upheaval.
Of the 26 players on their NHL roster at the moment, 12 will qualify for unrestricted free agency July 1.
from Mike Celizic at NBC Sports,
It’s not like hockey is poised to blow baseball or the NBA out of the water. But Sid the Kid and the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to play for Lord Stanley’s big silver punch bowl, and that’s already the best thing to happen to the game since Mark Messier took the New York Rangers to their first Cup in 54 years back in 1994.
It’s always been the greatest game nobody watches, better even to these eyes than that other great game nobody watches — soccer. But now, thanks to Sidney Crosby and the young and exciting team from Pittsburgh, there’s interest and buzz and — if you can believe it — a growing TV audience.
When Detroit eliminated Dallas on Monday night, the NHL has everything it had been hoping for ever since it canceled an entire season and almost committed labor-relations suicide three years ago.
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