Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Bold Prediction: Wings in Six

Yes, I planned to have a prediction post done last Friday, but real life and laziness got in the way. Besides, everyone and their dogs have posted a prediction for the series, so it's not like the hockey world is missing the content.

My original prediction was the Wings in 6, but even that might be a bit generous to the Penguins given how thoroughly they've been pwned in Games 1 and 2.

Instead of doing a detailed analysis, I can say that the primary asset that the Wings have in spades is EXPERIENCE. Look at any past cup winner, and you see loads and loads of playoff experience.

The Wings have Lidstrom, Holmstrom, McCarty, Rafalski, Hasek, Osgood, Chelios, Draper, Maltby who have Cup rings, plus other crusty veterans like Dallas Drake and Brad Stuart. These guys have been there, done that, and have the T-shirts to prove it.

The Penguins? They have Gary Roberts, whose idea of leadership is to go after the concussed head of Johan Franzen, and Petr Sykora as cup winners. Gonchar is really the only other big-time old guy they got goin.

Oh, I guess Ty Conklin has cup experience, although he's likely tried very hard to forget that. Hossa? He hasn't done THAT much in the playoffs until this season.

So, the Wings know what the deep playoffs are like, and know how to handle all of the pressure. They are calm, cool, collected, and playing like the well-oiled machine we know them to be. The Wings were way better than anyone else at preventing shots against, and have held the Penguins to just 41 shots and 0 goals in 2 games. Kinda hard to score with 20.5 shots per game.

The Penguins are clearly frustrated.

Sidney Crosby? He's visibly frustrated at the Wings ability to choke the neutral zone and hem the Penguins in their own zone. Seeing him swear his head off is rather disconcerting.

Evgeni Malkin? Is he even playing? It's hard to notice. Did he suddenly remember that Russians aren't supposed to play hard when the calendar nears June?

It's pretty much a golden rule in the Stanley Cup playoffs that the most experienced team will win, especially when the gap is wider than Tara Reid's genitals.

I just hope the Penguins can take Game Three and turn this into a respectable series. The fact that the Pens are down 2-0 wouldn't be so bad if they were actually putting up a fight, but we know that hasn't been the case.


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Did he suddenly remember that Russians aren't supposed to play hard when the calendar nears June?

Good thing Datsyuk hasn't recalled that old saw, or he wouldn't be beating Crosby like a red-headed stepchild every shift.

That said, it's amazing how invisible Malkin has been this series, and Hossa last night. At least Hossa showed up for game one.

Crosby is clearly putting forth the effort, and he's made a couple of nice plays, but the Wings have a strategy similar to what the Pistons used to use for shutting down superduperstars, once known as the "Jordan Rules," later reinvented as the "Kobe Rules." Basically, you collapse three guys around the shining star, and force him to give up the McGuffin (ball or puck, or plot-device in a movie).

There's a way to counteract this tactic, but you need the supporting players on the star's team to step up and make plays that exploit the double and triple-teaming. So far, the Pens haven't begun to figure it out. Might be a bit different in their house, getting the last change and all.

Wings in five. I think the Pens will get one in Pittsburgh.
Datsyuk's background is most certainly Ukrainian, so he isn't fully tainted. You must also remember that, for the longest time, Datsyuk was a total non-factor in playoff games. It took him a few years to get more Canadianized.

The Pens have good role players, and they should be working harder than they have been. Clearly, they are nervous and/or flustered.
Gary Bettman's team is going to go down 3-0 before making the comeback fairytale ending... That's what Bettman wants... Hehehe. Crosby will get the Conn Smyth for scoring 9 goals in every period of the comeback too...
This final is making a good case for one of my own personal projects, bringing back the traditional NHL playoff system,#1 seed plays 16, #2 plays 15 etc, regardless of division...We see the teams play in their own divisions and conference all year, who needs that in the playoffs too? And so what if the 2 teams in the finals are in the same division, IF they happen to be the 2 best teams? Let's dump the NBA playoff system...and Bettman with it! (And bring back the historic division names like Adams and Norris, while we're AT it!)
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