Top to bottom the Detroit Red Wings may be the deepest team in the National Hockey League.
Where the Red Wings exploited the Penguins last season was their ability to cause havoc in front of the net.
Led by gritty winger Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings have a “front of the net presence” on their top three lines.
Holmstrom caused the Penguins problems in the 08 playoffs and Pittsburgh will have their hands full with Holmstrom again this time around.
While Holmstrom will look to establish his presence early in game 1, the Penguins primary concern is going to be tough rugged winger Johan Franzen.
Franzen (19 pts) leads the Red Wings in playoff scoring and he is not nicknamed the “Mule” for nothing. Franzen is a force in front of the net and scores a lot of goals in traffic.
A third player to keep an eye on will be forward Dan Cleary. Cleary (14 pts) plays a Tomas Holmstrom type of game but has more offensive ability at this point of both players career’s.
There are a few players on the Penguins roster that are battling some injuries behind the scenes. Pittsburgh is healthier than Detroit but they could have used a few more days off.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik has been battling through nagging
back spasms since game 5 of the Philadelphia series. Orpik won’t miss a second of the Cup Finals but he has been getting a lot of treatment done in between and prior to games.
Red Wings update
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (lower body) will play in game 1 and he is much healthier than he was earlier in the week.
Pavel Datsyuk has been skating for the past three days on the side. The primary issue with him is the discomfort he has from the boot he must wear to protect his foot.
His status is up in the air for game 1 but he will be back in the lineup by game 2 at the latest.
Hossa, Hossa, Hossa
The media was surrounding Marian Hossa Wednesday night as he will face his former team in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“It was a really tough decision for me to make,” Hossa said. “When I compared the two teams, I felt like I would have a little better of a chance to win the Cup in Detroit.”
Most NHL sources I’ve talked too indicate, Pittsburgh wasn’t even Hossa’s second choice. Edmonton was Hossa’s fall back plan if a deal couldn’t be worked out with Detroit.
****I will have my Series preview up on the site by Saturday morning. I will admit I am still on the fence regarding which direction I will go.
Penguins in 6 vs Flyers
Penguins in 6 vs Capitals
Penguins in 5 vs Hurricanes
Photo courtesy of Dan4th