This is it, the final playoff series of the 08/09 NHL season. If you would have asked me at the start of the playoffs, I wouldn’t have picked either Detroit or Pittsburgh to be in the final. I thought Osgood wasn’t strong enough to carry Detroit deep into the post season and that Pittsburgh didn’t have enough depth on defence to compete every game against stronger and stronger opponents. But, clearly I was wrong!
As Detroit looks to become the first back to back winner of the Stanley Cup in 11 years, the real question is the health of all-world defenseman Niklas Lidstrom, although the past couple of days he has been on the ice practicing with the team. Detroit has also been getting some great scoring from its role players in the last couple of series’ which allows them to roll three offensive lines.
For Pittsburgh, this series will come down to experience and they did gain a bunch against Detroit in last year’s final. The team is young, offensively talented but the questions about their defence and whether Marc-Andre Fleury can be consistent enough remain to be answered. Offensively they are fun to watch and dangerous anytime they are in offensive zone.
I match-up the goaltending as even, give Detroit a slight edge at forward and a clear edge on defence, however I would give Pittsburgh the edge in intangibles as Captain Crosby so badly wants to win the Stanley Cup and is emerging as a great leader on the team. Prediction: Detroit in 7.
Game 1 goes at 5:00 PM PST in its rightful place on the CBC, Hockey Night in Canada, Saturday night!