Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Back from a terrific 2-4 in God's country and finally back on this horse.
More to come before Saturday but just wanted to post a few quick things.
I know this will drive the Caniacs, amongst others, nuts but I, for one, am excited to have a Final between two (two!?!) non Bettman clubs for the first time in years. No clubs from California or the southern U.S. No clubs that have moved from hockey hotbeds to hockey wastelands. No clubs where the fanbase consists of a total of 25000 terrific, passionate, knowledgeable fans but not a single person more. No New Jersey Devils.
Instead we have an original Six club in the Wings and a '67 entry, the Penguins, with a little history behind them as well. Good stuff.
Should be a fun series, a ton of story lines. I am leaning towards the Wings a bit at this point but I would feel a lot more comfortable doing so if they had a healthy Franzen. Considering how Danny Cleary has produced so little offensively (I have him in my pool) since his return from the puck in the face (I witnessed that live, by the way, the incident, not the return), I wonder if Franzen's return would have as big an impact as one might think.
Part of me thinks this could be '95 all over again, hot shot young club rolls in against a team with a little more defensive savvy and promptly eats it. Part if me thinks the Wings have ten guys who are going to make it tough sledding for the Pens but only two guys who can score and that will not be enough. Like Dallas the Pens are loaded down the middle. Unlike the Stars they have some pretty nice wingers as well. By which I mean, some guys with some serious offensive chops.
When it comes down to it the reason I will likely end up picking the Wings is one Nick Lidstrom. The Pens have nobody like him. Well, nobody does really. Plus the guys lining up behind him on the blueline are pretty fine too.
But the guy who may end up being the key for the Pens (and a good reason to pick them) is one Marian Hossa. Noted jackass Pierre Maguire went on one of his usual baseless rants before the playoffs began, calling Hossa "Maid Marian" and an abject failure in the playoffs. I know his numbers last season were awful (one assist in four games); of course he was playing with a knee injury so I'm not sure how much I put on that showing. Here are his numbers going back to the 2000 playoffs when he was 21 years old:
2000 - 6 GP - 0-0-0 (plus a minus eight - welcome to the playoffs big guy!)
2001 - 4 GP - 1-1-2
2002 - 12 GP - 4-6-10
2003 - 18 GP - 5-11-16
2004 - 7 GP - 3-1-4 (this was his last series with the Sens and he was dominant that series, every time he touched the puck he was a threat as far as I am concerned)
2007- 4 GP - 0-1-1
2008 - 14 GP - 9-10-19
Colour me stupid but after 2001 I see a guy who puts up pretty good numbers almost every single year. And this year he has been a force, even when facing a couple of pretty tough teams to play against in the Rangers and Flyers. Apparently Maguire has never been to the TSN website where I picked up this little bit of information but from where I stand I think Hossa's playoff performance looks pretty decent. And Pierre Maguire looks like an ass.
The Wings have Datsyuk and Hank, the Pens have Malkin and Crosby. Just as the Pens have no Lidstrom the Wings have nobody like Hossa.
Posted by Black Dog at 3:27 PM