Tuesday, June 2, 2009
NHL Finals Thoughts
I meant to do a full breakdown and preview before the playoffs start, but never got around to it. To be honest perhaps its better I did not as I would a have waxed poetic about the improved Malkin and Crosby. And honestly, could you have really blamed me for doing so. Malkin looked like the best player in hockey against the Hurricanes, and Crosby outshined his rival Oveckin in the second round series against the Caps.
With all respect though to the Capitals and Hurricanes, the Red Wings are a whole other type of animal. The Red Wings are an equal, if not superior, to the Penguins in sheer talent, and if the series was being played based just on that I would expect it to be an entertaining, high-scoring seven game tossup. However, the Red Wings are a well-oiled machine who swarm the puck on defense, hardly ever mishandle passes, and use the debatably illegal tactic of engaging the Penguins in the neutral zone (a cricumstance I find similar to the New England Patriots corners abusing opposing receivers in the early part of this decade, it may have pushed the boundries of the rules, but the Pats were hardly ever penalized).
In the first two games of the series, the Red Wings caught a couple breaks then protected the lead for the rest of the game. The Penguins did show flashes of being able to play with the Wings when the game was even or when they had the lead. The main factor for the rest of the series will be the confidence of the Penguins. If Pittsburgh gets out to an early 2 goal lead tonight they may be right back in the series mentally. Conversely, if Detroit scores and starts playing lock-down defense, the Penguins may check out for good. The next two games of the series are crucial. While I may come off as a homer for saying this, I think the Penguins will win the series if they level it at 2-2, if they lose one of the next two games I don't think they will make it back to the Igloo for game six. Call me a homer, but I am going to give the young Penguins team the benefit of the doubt and say they win the next two. I can't convince myself though that they will win in Detroit in game seven, but screw it, I can't pick against against my team now that the game is going to seven.
The Pick: Pens in Seven