Penguins and Red Wings
At the start of the 2008-09 derby, the predominant view was that the Red Wings of Detroit should be the the most likely to (return| make another trip} to the Stanley Cup finals. With the recognizable tandemsof Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Osgood still together, plus the addition of Marian Hossa from Pittsburgh, there would be a probability that Detroit would back to battle for Lord Stanley's mug.
But another Penguins ? Detroit Red Wing Final? After the slow start the Penguins had, letting go Michel Terrien as head coach, regardless the domination of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, they were struggling to make the play-offs. A significant second half improvement and an awe-inspiring7 game "clash of the titans" performance against Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is how we have our only final re-match in many years.
Will this be the year the young phenoms of Crosby and Malkin dominate for their only of possibly many Stanley Cups, much like Edmonton of the 80s?
The Penguinslearned a significant amount from the Stanley Cup Final defeat in 2008. They are now a unit with deeper playoff experience, a battle tested goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury and a leader in Sidney Crosby that matured from his only long play-off run. Also, facing the head coachreplaced mid-season and being off pace for the play-offs, the Penguins certainly have the lovemarks needed to hoist the most revered trophy in all of sports.
Detroit are the experienced choice, and have won more often .
They only got tougher after last year's Stanley Cup triumph, and have been the most cited favourite to repeat throughout the season. Chris Osgoode could capture his 4th Stanley Cup, putting him in the exceptional company of Patrick Roy among other goalies to have accomplished the feat. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen have kept apace in 2009 doing what they do best- scoring almost at-will in the playoffs.
But even though] all the logic of experience, depth and old style hockey suggesting the Red Wings are favourites, there is also plenty of evidence that the Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to start their own era.
Despite the intimidation on Detroit, the Penguins skill may be too overwhelming to betterthis year. We may his first Silver Chalice at the tender age of 22.