Thursday, May 22, 2008
Red Wings Vs Penguins Review
So that time is upon us in just over a day. The Stanley cup finals begin between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams up to now have a had a great run to the finals. The Red Wings facing their toughest test so far vs the Dallas Stars in which the Stars down by 3 managed to get it 3-2 before they were dumped 4-1 and 4-2 series. The route for the Pens was a little easier as they beat the Flyers 6-0 to take a 4-1 series win. With both those facts aside i think we will be in for a very competitive final that could go right down to the wire.
For the purpose of this review i will take a look at what i see as the key areas to the series and what could ultimately win or lose it. The first area that has to be looked at is the attacking flair both these teams possess, while yes the Pens punch a greater threat on paper, you have to look at it in the way that the joint leaders on 21 points are Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg. Also in the top ten the Red Wings have Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen so by no means do these Wings lack offensive punch, each player skilled in their own right. However i think the Pens win this contest by a country mile as they have just too much attacking prowess the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Malone, Dupuis, Sykora, Hossa, Staal, Gonchar, Whitney to name but a few. This is a area the Pens can really drum home a advantage and really make the Wings pay. If the Pens can get all these players firring they will be to much. The problem they face is if Crosby or Malkin doesn't perform one night there many others who will but also if one doesn't the other probably will.
The next key area to look at is defense. This is key to both sides as they both have a great defensive unit (I will assess goaltending later in the review) that has been very solid, with much thanks to the Goaltenders. This is a area i think the Red Wings have a slight advantage on paper however trying to keep the likes of Crosby&Co silent is no easy task and i think this could be a great drain on the unit as the final progresses. The key will be for the Red Wings to shut down this attacking force or it could be a clean sweep for them. However i don't see this happening but I'm always game for surprises. As for the Pens i feel they will be just as busy. However the unit will be much stronger later in the series as they will not have to worry too much about too many attacking forces that possess endless skill. This match-up is a lot tighter in which i feel the Wings have a slight edge of a young Penguins defensive unit, but i don't think this alone would be enough for the Wings to win the Series. Expect a low scoring series though.
The next area and what i think is the biggest area and will be key to the whole series and that is that of the Goaltenders Marc Andre-Fleury and Chris Osgood. Two very solid goalies with one playing the hockey of his lifetime and living up to those expectations. Fleury who has been brilliant since his return from a High Ankle sprain. He thought he lost his Place to Ty Conklin has come on too show us he is a Franchise Goalie. He will however be up against Chris Osgood a seasoned veteran who has been there many times. If Fleury can play like he has been the Pens have a great shot but equally the same can be said for the Wings. This area which is the key to it all is hard to decide and i would not like to be the one to do that. I will say one thing if one has a bad game it will be a big momentum shifter in the series for whichever team wins. Expect low scoring between these two.
The next areas to look at are the Powerplay (PP) and Penalty kill (PK). The first being the PP this is a area the Pens win marginally mainly due to the same points mentioned in the Attacking section at the beginning. They possess too much of a attacking punch. However the Wings do have a very good PP unit. They are the best two in the league it will be interesting to see how they play. I do give the Pens a slight edge. The next area the PK again pits two of the best in the Playoffs and Pens team which has come on leaps and bounds since Therrian took over two years ago. This will be a tight one in this area and it is pretty much even but i will have to give a very slight and i mean very slight edge to the Pens. Why may you ask and that is simple its is down to the play of Staal and Talbot, who have been immense on the PK making it tough for the opposition.
Now to the Part you have all been waiting for the Prediction. I said on http://www.pensunderground.com/ it would be the Pens in 6. I will stick to that prediction. It will be a low scoring series in which will be very entertaining and hard on both sides. This is the Series the NHL wanted in the final and i don't think it will disappoint.