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Hockey Today May 20

Hockey Today May 20

Hockey Today

No game scheduled. The Stanley Cup finals begin on Saturday, May 24.


Detroit advanced to the Stanley Cup finals for the 23rd time in team history with a 4-1 win at Dallas in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night and will face Pittsburgh. Game 1 is Saturday, May 24. The Red Wings and Penguins did not meet this season. They did the two previous years and Detroit won both.


Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Dallas Drake scored in the first period and Detroit advanced to the Stanley Cup finals with a 4-1 win at Dallas in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night. Draper had the puck deflect off his lip and into the net and was in the dressing room getting treated when his goal became official.


Detroit's Chris Osgood improved to 10-2 this postseason after making 28 saves in a 4-1 win at Dallas on Monday night that sent the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup finals. It was his 100th career playoff game and his 55th victory - 48th for Detroit, passing Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk for the franchise record.


Pittsburgh is 12-2 this postseason, with both losses coming in Game 4s, with a chance to sweep the New York Rangers in the semifinals and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals. Ten of the Penguins' 12 playoff wins were by multiple-goal margins. Pittsburgh will face Detroit, 12-4 this postseason, in the Stanley Cup finals starting Saturday, May 24.


Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios missed Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Dallas on Monday night because of a lingering leg injury. The 46-year-old Chelios just completed his 24th NHL regular season. He has played in an NHL-record 260 playoff games.


``It went off my chin, it went in, who cares?'' - Detroit's Kris Draper on the first goal of Monday night's game going off his face and into the net. The Red Wings scored three times in the first period and won 4-1 to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.


``It really hurts to think of what we could have done. It's the ultimate disappointment of letting the guys down.'' - Dallas goalie Marty Turco after the Stars were eliminated in six games by Detroit in the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

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Re: Hockey Today May 20

Stanley Cup Finals Preview
By Judd Hall

No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 1 Detroit Red Wings

Series Price: Detroit -180, Pittsburgh +150

Series Format: Detroit, 2-2-1-1-1

Skinny: I don’t know how they did it, but Gary Bettman and NBC got the Stanley Cup Finals he’s been dreaming of ever since the 2004-2005 lockout. And it’s not just because of name recognition either…It’s because both clubs were truly the best teams in the NHL.

The Penguins took the shorter of the two paths to make it into the Promised Land, playing just 13 games. They enacted a small part of revenge in slaughtering the Sens in the first round, made short work of the Rangers in the Eastern Semifinals and finished it off with a demoralizing sweep of the Flyers.

Most people would think that Pittsburgh’s offense runs solely through Sidney Crosby at first blush. It’s hard not to disagree with that thinking since he led the team with 120 points last season en route to his first Hart Memorial Trophy.

Crosby also leads all skaters with 19 points this postseason, but he’s not who the opposition should be worry about. That honor goes to the Pens’ Hart finalist this season, Evgeni Malkin. The 21-year old from Magnitogorsk sat behind the steering wheel and put up 106 points during the regular season as Crosby was laid up with a bad ankle for much of the second half of the year. Malkin is tied for second amongst all players with 18 points in the playoffs.

The Pens aren’t all offense either…just as the Flyers. Philadelphia made it into the Eastern Finals thanks in large part to bullying teams that liked to attack. They attempted to do the same to their Keystone State rivals and found out that Pittsburgh could not only absorb the punishment, but hit back. I guess Philly should have realized that ahead of time seeing as the Penguins are third in the playoffs with 180 penalty minutes.

Sergei Gonchar, Darryl Sydor and Hal Gill get much of the credit for Pittsburgh’s tough blue line play. However, their hard work would go for naught had it not been for Marc-Andre Fleury holding down the fort in goal. Fleury has a 1.74 goals against average en route to the Stanley Cup Finals while stopping 93.7 percent of the shot fired his way.

All is not coming up roses for the Penguins’ netminder. Fleury’s stick handling was poor on more than one occasion against the Flyers. That could pose a problem against a team like Detroit that is well known for making the most of the opposition’s mistakes.

Detroit was the team that many felt would be playing into June when the season began. And they haven’t disappointed by making it through Nashville, Colorado and Dallas to their 23rd Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

The Red Wings possess one of the best offenses in the league this season, scoring 252 goals over the year. Detroit is a three-headed monster in terms of visiting the red light district with Henrik Zetterberg (43), Pavel Datsyuk (31) and Johan Franzen (27). Out of that group, Franzen has been the leader with 12 goals. The only issue being is that he’s been laid up with concussion like symptoms since Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

Now I know you’re not going to see offense come through every night for the Wings. When those occasions happen, Detroit relies on a defense that gave up a league low 179 goals. That is due to having a veteran group of blue liners like Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall pushing the opposition back.

Detroit isn’t slacking in goal either by sending Chris Osgood between the pipes. Osgood has won a Cup for the Wings back in the 90s as their top netminder. Yet they were going to play Dominik Hasek. You know the guy…he’ll play a puck that about 100 feet away from his crease. Never mind the fact that three forwards are coming his way. This is just one of the many reasons Osgood replaced him during the series against Nashville.

Gambling Notes: Unfortunately with NHL being so stupid with their scheduling, we’ve not seen these teams meet on the ice since the 2003 season. That being said, the Wings won eight out their last 13 meetings with Pittsburgh dating back to Feb. 1996.

In fact, the home team has won eight of the last 13 matches between the two squads. Meanwhile, the ‘over’ is 7-6.

Will that home ice trend hold true here? I bet it will as neither club lost a home playoff game this season.

Outlook: This is a tough series to pick a winner in mainly because both teams are equally strong in pretty much every aspect.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and take the Penguins in this series in six games. The value you get on a team that is young and light years ahead of where they were last season are just too good to pass up.

All it will take is one win on the road…just one. Once that victory is in the bag, the Stanley Cup will soon follow.

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Re: Hockey Today May 20

Penguins, Red Wings present dynamic mix of new and old

The Stanley Cup finals beginning Saturday will feature plenty of intrigue between a team with some of the league's most exciting young players against another with a storied history and loaded with playoff experience.

The Stanley Cup finals will fulfill the NHL's marketing dreams -- and should be a memorable experience for fans too.

The Detroit Red Wings, an Original Six team with a deep and far-flung fan base, earned the right to compete for the Cup by defeating the Stars in six games, ending their Western Conference finals series with an impressive 4-1 victory Monday at Dallas.

The Red Wings will face the Penguins, who have become a model franchise only a few years after their future in Pittsburgh appeared bleak.

Building around the superb skills of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins improved rapidly under Coach Michel Therrien and reached the Cup finals probably a year or two ahead of their own projections.

They haven't played for the Cup since 1992, when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr led them to the second of two successive titles. Lemieux assumed a majority ownership of the club after its 1999 bankruptcy and became a local hero for helping head off a rumored move.

The final will begin Saturday in Detroit, a matchup that will put on display some of the league's most decorated and proven veterans and most exciting youngsters.

The Penguins are remarkably dynamic up front, where Crosby, Malkin and late-season acquisition Marian Hossa pull off feats of stickhandling magic every game. But the Penguins also have a surprisingly solid defense, a true team effort in the absence of an individual standout of the magnitude of Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.

General Manager Ray Shero did a superb job in mixing some experience into his lineup when he acquired Hossa, forward Pascal Dupuis and rugged defenseman Hal Gill in late February. All played key roles for the Penguins, who have won 16 consecutive games at the Igloo, the downtown arena that will be replaced by 2010.

The Red Wings rebounded impressively from their loss to the Ducks in last year's West final. Coach Mike Babcock wasn't afraid to juggle his lineup and deftly worked around the absence of Johan Franzen, who had concussion-like symptoms, and 46-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios, who missed the clincher against Dallas because of a leg injury.

Both teams have ample skill and enough muscle to back it up. Goaltender Chris Osgood has gone 10-2 for Detroit after replacing Dominik Hasek, and his counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury, has compiled a playoff-best .938 save percentage.

The Red Wings have more playoff experience, but the Penguins have the younger legs and two game-changing players in Crosby and Malkin. The NHL, which has seen a modest increase in its TV ratings this season -- from not much to not much more -- should be grateful for such a bonanza.

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