Now whether you’re an avid hockey fan or just someone who watches a game every now and then, you still have to appreciate the fact that with all the great battles that have gone on in this year’s playoff, this game 7 is going to be an epic finally to one great series. Who’s going to win? That we can’t be sure. Story-lines have been set however, so that both teams deserve it.
Firstly you have the classic battle of experience versus youth.
Proven winners in Nik Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom and many others. Most of the core players on the Detroit Red Wings roster have been playing for the team since they were drafted or at least since their early years in the NHL. You just cant force chemistry, but this team has had it from the start and has only continued growing together into what is now considered the powerhouse team or the “class” of the league. Few are contenders, even fewer are winners, and the Red Wings are winners.
Then we have a bold young team in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby and Malkin are possibly the best 2 players in the league and they are playing on the same team! Not a lot of teams can hold down that 1-2 punch, let alone the rest of a very solid roster. Many young faces here will only get better, imagine what Tyler Kennedy, Maxime Talbot, Chris Kunitz and co. can do now… Then imagine them in 5 years time… I can just see the cup rings pop into the picture, can you? That is of course, if Pittsburgh can afford it and if they choose to keep that lineup together. Then the Penguins went and added a few veterans to the team in Miroslav Satan and Bill Guerin. To me this squad is more complete and well rounded. Their defense is also becoming solid with Mr. Gonchar doing the offense and Mr. Scuderi and Mr. Gill helping a streaking Marc-André Fleury hold down the fort.
This team went to the cup finals last year and lost to… the Detroit Red Wings. Which brings me to my next point…
Although it’s been quietly laid down as this series has gone on, you know the Penguins are looking for payback. What happened last year only adds to their fire and passion as youngsters, but now, that finals defeat of the past may be just the thing to help them beat Detroit this time around… Experience! Only 1 year has past since that immense heartbreak that I’m sure a player like Crosby remembers, for a while it seemed all the media wanted to do is show a picture of him sulking after losing the series. Now the odds have evened up it seems and the Penguins have gotten this series to 7. Can redemption be enough to push the Penguins to break through and win the Stanley Cup? We can only wonder until 8 p.m. Eastern time tonight.
If you look at how the games have gone down so far, consistency will tell you Detroit takes the series because so far every game has been won at home, but can there be another factor that would make Detroit just that much better than the Pens? Just another reason to win, another great storyline… Marian Hossa. Yes, I said it, I think Marian Hossa could decide this series.
Why would I say that about this player… well. Firstly he was part of that Pittsburgh team that lost the final… to the Red Wings of course. Hossa was already basically rented out to win a cup, playing only 12 regular season games with the Pens before the playoffs. I’m guessing some veteran player must have told him “If you get a chance to win a cup, win it, because you never know how long it can be before you get back there, deep in the playoffs”. In any case, after the season was done Hossa was headed to a winner, in Detroit. A good choice, mind you nothing is a sure bet in the NHL, just ask Jim Ballsilie. And now the very talented Marian Hossa is playing against his old team in a cup final. We know Hossa’s talented, but like most talented players they can at some point, or consistently, lack heart. I’m afraid this playoff, 7.5 million dollar-a-year-worth Marian Hossa is falling a little shy of expectations. He has been neither a game breaker, neither a great defensive presence, neither a great role player, he has just played, skated around, passed the puck a bit, and let his talent carry him. I will say that if Hossa turns it on in game 7 a goal and an assist will win it for Detroit. If Hossa, a man who should have so much to prove to the Pens, and who really really wants a cup (or money), fails to register a point, the Pens will take it in 7. And if that happens, I believe that the Red Wings are still a dynasty, the Pens are still a young team, Crosby stops whining…ok maybe not (just kidding), and we will have proof (along with Mats Sundin’s situation) that you cannot buy a team, and that heart will win the Stanley Cup after all, and in that case, everybody wins.