Friday, May 23, 2008

Playoff Predictions: The Finals

We are now down to the wire: The Stanley Cup Finals

It's Pittsburgh's young guns vs. Detroit's experienced crew.

Predicting who will win Lord Stanley's Cup this year is virtually impossible. I started thinking it when the Pens and Wings were up 3-0 in their respective conference finals, and I only made a decision on Monday. It was probably the hardest decision I've made so far in these playoffs, and the most painful.

You see, I predict that the Red Wings will win in 6, with Lidstrom taking home the Conn Smythe.

Both teams have great offenses, and I'd give Pittsburgh the edge in this respect. Detroit has the Datsyuk/Zetterberg line, which is fantastic, but Pittsburgh has two number one lines centred by Crosby and Malkin. If Detroit gets Johan Frazen back (and it looks like they will later on in the series), then the Red Wings' offense pretty much matches Pittsburgh's.

Where this series will be won and lost is with defence. Pittsburgh has an underrated defensive corps and they will make things hard for the Red Wings, but they have yet to come across a team that is as solid defensively as Detroit. Ottawa was a mess, New York was inexperienced, and Philly was injured. The Red Wings are healthy and very good. The top two Pittsburgh lines will have to penetrate either Lidstrom/Rafalski or Stuart/Kronwall, and that will be very difficult to do. Add to that the fact that those top two defensive pairings for Detroit are very good offensively, and you have a team that will make it hard for the Pens to maintain puck possession.

Did I mention that Datsyuk and Zetterberg are also Selke nominees this year, or that Detroit is #1 in face-offs (and Pittsburgh is dead last)?

The buzz word going into this series is 'experience' - will Detroit's experience trump Pittsburgh's lack of experience? I tend to lean towards yes; Detroit has 20+ Cup rings on its roster, compared to Pittsburgh's three (if you count Sydor). Detroit also has a cast of players who have experienced failure in the playoffs, whether it be from defeat to the 8th seed (in 2006) or from defeat in the Conference Finals (in 2007).

If you look at history, lack of experience tends to go against a team in the Finals. Look at Edmonton's first run at the Cup in the early 80's, when they ran over the West but were then swept by an experienced Islanders team. Or how about last year's Ottawa Senators? Or how about Lebron James' Cavaliers in last year's NBA finals? Sometimes you need to lose it all before you can win it all.

All of this doesn't mean that I believe that the Red Wings will easily beat the Penguins. Heck, I think that there is a very good chance that the Pens can steal the Cup from the Red Wings. They have overcome so much adversity this year that it should not be surprising if Sidney Crosby leads his team to the ultimate prize. I WANT Pittsburgh to win, and I will be cheering for them to no end, but my gut feeling is telling me that Detroit has just a little bit more of an edge.

[Go Pens]

Okay, so now that I've stated my reasons for predicting that my team will not win this year, let's see what everyone is thinking. Faceoff Factor has an ever-updated list of what the media is thinking.

Duthie: no response
Milbury: DETROIT
Panger: no response

And here's an updated look at the standings so far:
Ashley: 11/14
Susie: 5/14
Maggie: 9/14
McKenzie: 10/14
Duthie: 6/10 *
Panger: 7/10 *
Milbury: 7/10 *
* I don't have the 2nd round predictions for Duthie, Panger or Milbury. I suck.


Hooks Orpik said...

I shouldn't even give this to you since you picked the Pens to lose, but here ya go! ;)

TSN playoff predictions

Hooks Orpik said...

Upon further review, that link is of no use so it looks like I'm the one that sucks..

Ashley said...

hooks - thanks for the link (I know I don't deserve any kindness from Pens fans haha). TSN just updated the info to include today's predictions, so it's all good.

Michael said...

Pittsburgh has a long history of not losing in championship finals. Except for that one Superbowl (Thank you, Neil.) Don't ever pick against these Penguins.