Stanley Cup Finals
(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (2) Pittsburgh Penguins
Well, we can definitely be sure the Finals this year are the league's two best teams, because the Conference Finals on both sides were pretty underwhelming stuff. Philadelphia got beat cleanly, and their hypothesized advantage in toughness failed to materialize under the eight layers of unsurprising penalties they took for it (VENGEANCE
Remember how Brian Murray acted all butthurt at the start of the playoffs and insisted that the Penguins threw their last game of the regular season to improve their playoff lot? If his accusations were correct, then the Penguins are looking like geniuses right now; it takes a minimum of twelve games or a maximum of twenty-one to make the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Penguins only needed fourteen. (By comparison, Detroit needed sixteen. Slackers!)
Detroit, of course, didn't face any accusations of standings-gerrymandering; they couldn't have finished second in the West without throwing a good four or five games, and the only way they're guilty of rigging the standings is if it's suddenly a crime to beat St. Louis and Chicago like a hundred times every season. So they finished first, like they usually do, but this time it turns out the seeding wasn't misleading after all.
(Incidentally, and as you might expect, the top five pointgetters so far this postseason are Zetterberg, Crosby, Datsyuk, Hossa and Malkin. Anyone else here surprised to see Hossa up there?)
Pittsburgh detractors say that the Penguins are too young and inexperienced; Detroit detractors say that the Red Wings are too old and European. These are valid criticisms, sure, but somebody has to end up wrong! And Detroit is a very classy, very distinguished, very talented team of players who are very good at hockey -- which apparently means that almost nobody is rooting for them to win. The Penguins have two of hockey's three biggest new stars and a continent's worth of newfound fans backing them up, and the Red Wings are having problems even filling their arena these days. (Mostly because general economic downtown and the rapid decline of the automotive industry have swiftly murdered the city's collective pocketbook, but still.)
This series has the potential to be the best Stanley Cup Finals we've seen in years or even decades, so what's most likely to happen is that one team will blow the other team out of the water in four or five games and ruin everything for everyone. It's just been that kind of year for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What I'd Want: Pittsburgh in seven nailbiters, and Georges Laraque lifts the Stanley Cup no later than sixth in the rotation.
What I'll Guess: Detroit in five games and it isn't even close, because ha ha we can't have nice things. And the American television ratings for the decisive Game Five are lower than Monday Night RAW, lower than American Gladiators reruns, and lower than whatever statistically meaningless baseball games are on at the time.
It's almost June! Holy crap!