The conference finals are over and the Pens are matched up against the Red Wings for the second year in a row for the Stanley Cup. The View picked the Pens in 6 and the Wings in 7; the Pens swept the Hurricanes in 4 and the Wings bested the Hawks in 5. And there you have the reason for the title of this post- the View was correct in his conference final picks.
The Pens and the Wings both looked dominant in the conference finals. Chicago's youth finally betrayed them in the pressure cooker of the the Western Conference finals as they appeared to come unglued as the series progressed. It didn't help their cause to lose Khabibulin to a lower body injury as Huet and Corey Crawford were thrust into action in the crease for the Hawks. Huet was overwhelmed in his first action since Easter, but looked stronger in game five. The Wings D suffered some losses as Lidstrom was injured and Jonathan Ericsson had an emergency appendectomy, yet the D corp for Detroit was stellar, holding the explosive young guns of the Hawks in check. In the Eastern Conference final, Cam Ward was under siege in net for the Canes as the scoring machines of Malkin and Crosby exerted their will in the offensive zone. Carolina could not match the offensive horsepower that the Pens put on the ice, and the result was a 4 game sweep.
Now we move to the Stanley Cup re-match. The Pens should be more seasoned than they were last year and less in awe of making the championship. This will bode well for the Pens as they face a dinged up Wings squad. Never count the Wings out, however, as they have the capability to match up well with the Pens and elevate their game. The surprise of the playoffs has been the play of Chris Osgood in net for the Wings. While looking average during the regular season, he has been outstanding in the playoffs. It is a given that the Wings can score, and the challenge for the Pens will be to contain the scoring threats the Wings have. Fleury is going to have to be on top of his game for the Pens to have a chance in this series. He can be streaky, giving up juicy rebounds and the occasional soft goal. The Pens need him to be solid in net to have a chance in this contest. Home ice belongs to the Wings, and it will work to their advantage.
So who wins? Two teams that look to be evenly matched on paper should produce a great series. The experience edge goes to the Wings; I believe the talent advantage goes to the Pens. It is very difficult for the View to overcome his Red Wings hate, and this colors his pick for the Cup.
The Pick: Pens in 6
We will see if the blind hog can find another acorn.