There is a strong sense throughout NHL circles that the Pittsburgh Penguins are more equipped to upend the Detroit Red Wings this time around as the two teams will meet for a rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals, Satuday night.
Even though the Penguins may be primed to hoist their first Stanley Cup since 1992, the Red Wings should not be overlooked by no means.
Why the Red Wings should not be overlooked
The Red Wings are the deepest team in the National Hockey. Not only do you have to deal with star forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, & Johan Franzen, you also have to deal with role players Dan Cleary (14pts), Valtteri Filppula (14 pts), Mikael Samuelsson (9pts) who have the offensive ability to be difference makers.
Pittsburgh will benefit from Pavel Datsyuk being limited and are the stronger team down the middle but they can’t combat Detroit’s grit and firepower on the wings.
Jordan Staal as always will an X-Factor for the Penguins. We all know his role is not to score goals at an Evgeni Malkin pace but the Penguins need him to put the puck in the net if they want to prevail.
On defense the Red Wings are the stronger team. They are led by Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom and unlike the Hurricanes, the Red Wings have a #1 defenseman to slow down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Lidstrom is followed by puck moving defenseman Brian Rafalski, hard hitting defenseman Nicklas Krownwall and steady defenseman Brad Stuart.
Krownwall will be matched up against Evgeni Malkin as the Wings will look to be physical with Malkin early and often.
The Red Wings have two sets of defensive pairings that can match Crosby and Malkin’s line shift for shift.
Pittsburgh won’t have the luxury of attacking the offensive zone going up against the likes of Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason.
In goal, the Red Wings have veteran Chris Osgood who despite his flaws, wins big games and wins championships. The major question mark for Pittsburgh will be whether they can solve Osgood. Getting traffic in front of Osgood will be the key.
Even it may not look like it, the Red Wings are a stronger team than last season with the addition of Marian Hossa and the development of forwards Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm.