Friday, May 23, 2008

2008 Finals Prediction/Assessment

1) Well, no big surprises in the Conference Finals other than perhaps the veritable ease in which Pittsburgh rolled over the Flyers and how meekly they bowed out. The Red Wings' 6 game series win probably came as little surprise to us at FAUXRUMORS. We predicted as such before the series started. With our 2 accurate predictions in the last round it brought the FAUXRUMORS playoff series predictions to a very solid 10-4.

2) With the Stanley Cup Finals to (Finally!) get underway tomorrow we at FAUXRUMORS felt it time for us to weigh in on what we believe will occur over the next 2 weeks. Since almost every other hockey blog has had their say, its time for us to have ours. The Pittsburgh-Detroit series. No Cinderellas in this year's Finals. Looking back these ARE the Two best teams!

3) Anyway, we will break down the series with regard to the important/compelling matchups we see could be important in determining who will carry the Cup around the ice in 1-2 weeks. Its the old guard in Detroit, with many players over 35(Chelios is soon to be 65, right?) -vs- the Young Guns of hockey, the high flying Penguins

  • The Stars: Crosby/Malkin-vs- Datsyuk/Zetterberg. All four are amazing players in their own right. All have greatly contributed to their teams' regular season AND playoff success. They are not coincidentally the overall top point getter's in the playoffs. Any of these 4 will probably be the playoff MVP, depending upon whom has the best Finals/wins the Cup. It wasn't long ago that the Detroit duo were being castigated for their playoff disappearing acts. Not this time around as both have scored/assisted on critical goals in all 3 series wins. The pens dynamic duo of Malkin and Crosby are scarily so young and amazingly talented that we are reminded of a similar duo of centers out of Edmonton in the early 80's(Gretzky and Messier). The Wing forwards may have a slight edge in experience/defensive prowess, while their Pitt counterparts are slightly more explosive. Should prove to be an exciting matchup of some of the NHL's best talent up front. Edge: Even

  • PP QB's: Nicklas Lidstrom-vs- Sergei Gonchar. Two of the most gifted offensive defensemen in the game today. Both are long time NHL vets, with Gonchar playing in his 15th season. 'Gonch' has significantly elevated his game this season and in the post season especially. Not only is he contributing as the team's PP QB, but his defense has been nothing short of excellent. He has previously been overlooked for Norris consideration due to his defensive weakness, but not so anymore. Therrian uses Gonchar as his 'shut down' defender, and should no longer be looked upon as one dimensional. Lidstrom is in his 18th season, ALL with the Wings, easily should win another Norris, and legitimately should been a Hart Finalist this past season. He is the epitome of what a 2-way defensemen should strive to be; The shut down/reliable defender in his own zone and the team's PP specialist at the other. No one combines/excels at both better. Edge: Detroit

  • The aggitators: Jarkko Rutuu-vs- Tomas Holmstrom. Although Rutuu is more an agitator and Holmstrom more a power forward type both play the role as the teams' forward most likely to get under the opposition's skin. Jarkko is just better at it. However, the Redwings being a veteran team are less likely to respond to his nonsense than other more inexperienced teams. Both players are not relied upon to score huge number of goals, both possess some offensive ability that shouldn't be overlooked, but Holmstrom is far more productive. Edge: Detroit

  • The Goalies: Chris Osgood-vs- M.A. Fleury. Before the playoffs/season no one would have placed these two as likely opponents to play for the Cup. Certainly NOT osgood, as we outlined in the linked post. Since replacing Hasek he has been a steadying influence and merely done what was asked, win. Both goalies still struggle for respect and you can bet many will be asking if one, or both, will fold under the pressure of being here. As always goaltending will be a factor, but it remains to be seen who will step up their game another notch. Thus far we are more impressed with what Fleury has accomplished against what would seem to be tougher opponents, and he has answered the call and them some. Some have been waiting for the former first overall pick to become the superstar goalie the Pens believed they drafted in 2002. Thus far he is answering in the affirmative. Edge: Pittsburgh

  • Secondary scoring: Both of these teams are obviously loaded offensively, but if there is a weakness with Detroit, it is scoring balance. Since playoff sensation Johan Franzen was injured after the Wings' second-round win over Colorado, the RedWings has struggled at times to score. Infact, Franzen still leads all players with 12 goals and five game-winners. Without him, the pressure will clarly be on Detroit's top line of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Holmstrom. Shut them down, and the Penguins could have a good chance to win. The Penguins offensive depth is much more evident and down right impressive. If Franzen comes back the stark edge for the Pens will be mitigated to some degree, but we'd still say they are better. Edge: Pittsburgh

  • Team defense: Here is where Detroit has a stark edge. For one, the Red Wings are one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL. No slap at Pittsburgh's blueliners; They have performed admirably, however they have no answer to the 'other Niklas' back on defense. Kronwall. He has been a difference at both ends of the ice. He leads all playoff defenders with 12 points.(One more than Gonchar) As important he also has the potential to deliver devastating hits and punish opposing forwards in the Detroit zone. We feel he may the key to containing the speedy Penguin forwards by giving them something to fear as they cross the Detroit blueline. Edge: Detroit

  • The Intangibles: Experience-vs- Youth. This spring marks the fifth time the Wings have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in past 13 years, and have won the Cup three times in their last four appearances. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby played on previous Detroit Cup teams, while Rafalski won two Cups with New Jersey. Only Petr Sykora (NJ), Darryl Sydor(Dallas) and Gary Roberts(Calgary) have played on a Cup champion. Edge: Detroit

4) What this series will come down to is will the Redwings be able to play their puck possession game or will Pittsburgh be able to play their up tempo, more wide open style? Regardless of their edge up front, we believe that defense wins championships. As such we see the Redwings as having enough offense and a strong enough defense to stifle the Penguin attack. Perhaps not entirely, but at least contain it enough to eke out 4 victories. Also we do NOT underestimate the experience factor. Many more Wings have been here and know what it takes to win. The Penguins are far too young and shown immature streaks/lack of killer instinct at times this post season. This will NOT be a sweep by either team. However, we believe the Penguins time to win will have to be put off at least another season. Detroit in 6


Antzmarching said...

Faux, how the hell can you give Fleury the edge over Osgood? First finals for MA, yet Ozzy has his name on the Cup as a starting goalie AND he is playing the best he ever has... I agree with the rest of your comments and, I too, will take Detroit in 6... Vlad is gonna give you hell with the Osgood slight...

The Dark Ranger said...

I agree with ANTZ on the Osgood comment. Yes- Fleury is on a roll, like Cam Ward was in the finals, but....OSGOOD lights it up and I think he is far superior to MAF.

Bah-hum-bug, FRACK the kids...I am going with Detroit in 5.



1) Antz: As we have written here we give Ozzy kudos for his performance these playoffs, BUT by and large we have to say the 3 teams the Wings beat were offensively inferior to the 3 teams the Penguins beat to get here.
2) What Osgood did 10 years ago is also irrelevant to this discussion. However as one blog wrote recently, Osgood was the 'worst goalie to ever win a Cup.' Some said then that the Wings won despite Chris.
3) Fleury is not yet Patrick Roy, but there is no doubt he is a big part why the penguins advanced to the Finals.
4) Dittos to TDR: You especially should be giving M-A F credit for helping the Pens get by your team. Additionally, the redwing defense is far better than Pitt so Fleury has been called upon to make more big saves.
5) All that said, we don't believe that it will be enough to carry the Pens to a Cup as we feel the redwing defense will stifle/suffocate the pens enough to win the Cup

Antzmarching said...

Stanley Cup playoff experience is NEVER irrelevant - unless, of course, the player being discussed is way over the hill... Ozzy is clearly NOT finished... C'mon Faux, you know this stuff...


1) For the record the 'edge' between MAF and Ozzie is not huge. Unlike last year when we had a mediocre back up(Emory) going up against a former playoff MVP in(Giguere). This time neither are highly regarded, and we don't think this will be the difference in the series.

Contact the Media