May 29, 2017 by scia9
(Courtesy of Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports)
Written by Andrew Sciascia
“History Will Be Made”
Words any hardcore hockey fan has ingrained in their mind come every post-season. Despite the NHL dropping their award-winning Stanley Cup Playoff advertising campaign, the slogan lives on. Not only because the “History Will Be Made” commercials were so awe-inspiring, but more importantly because they were correct.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs just have a way of creating an exciting, emotional story year in and year out. The thrilling overtime showdowns, brutal fights and unbelievable come-backs between bitter rivals. The narrative just writes itself.
From the Blackhawks breaking out of their “worst franchise in sports” stint to take the Cup back to Chicago after the longest championship drought in NHL history to Bobby Orr’s electric sudden-death game winner and the accompanying photo of him in flight, the NHL post-season is well-known for captivating Cinderella stories and herculean efforts.
This year, one unlikely narrative seemed to be woven by the fates: the tale of the Predators. The wild card squad from Nashville made relatively quick work of three tough competitors in Chicago, Edmonton and Anaheim, only to come face-to-face with the defending champions from Pittsburgh. Murmurs became league-wide discussion, and one word was on everyone’s minds: history.
(Courtesy of NHL.com)
Problem is, despite all the hype, the Preds’ “History Will Be Made” moment of 2017 is more than likely to be a pipe dream.
The 2017 Stanley Cup Final showdown begins tonight, but don’t expect to see the 1998 expansion team get their first kiss this June. Coming from a bitter Blackhawks fan that may sound spiteful, I’d set the odds at 10 to 1 that the Predators hoist their first cup this year.
The way things stack up it’s not hopeless, just horribly improbable.
Don’t get me wrong, the Preds have been a stunner this postseason. Their road to the finals was easy by no means, sweeping the Blackhawks (Central Division 1 Seed) and vanquishing a very hot Edmonton Oilers, who seemed poised for a cup run themselves. Not to mention taking out another first seeded team in the Anaheim Ducks to win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
The Predators have a handful of weapons to show of this series.
(Courtesy of Foxsports.com)
Captain Mike Fisher looks to be back in the lineup for the final showdown. Fisher is undoubtedly one of the best two-way forwards in the league. His offensive capacity is doubled on defense, where he frequently finds a way to rally the troops. He blocks shots, he makes big hits and his ability to score in big games makes him a real threat.
The problem for Nashville, however, lies in the loss of Ryan Johansen (out with leg injury). With a total of 13 points this playoffs, Johansen’s offensive output has been felt, and without him the team has lost a chunk of its depth at Center. If Mike Fisher comes back on shaky footing, as players often do in the playoffs, Nashville’s productive offense may flounder.
On the opposite side of this tilt is the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins who, despite the toll of several injuries, have found a way to produce their spitfire offense this post-season.
The Pens have no shortage of experience in these big moments, having taken home the title just one year ago. With a strikingly similar roster to last year, this is a hungry team that knows exactly what must be done to win a Cup.
Matt Murray may not be Pekka Rinne, but he and Marc-Andre Fleury have been spot-on during these playoffs. And with decent help from their defensive core, they’ve weathered the storm from the NHL’s greatest scorers, including Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
(Courtesy of Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)
Not to mention the two-headed giant. The Pittsburgh Penguins have long run their offensive around the talented and storied duo of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the man you love to hate (for some strange reason). The numbers don’t lie, and the problem for every team that’s had to face the Pens is that the beast has grown another head.
With the acquisition of Phil “The Thrill” Kessel last season, the Penguins offense is nothing short of astounding. In this post-season run alone, the team of three has fed the Penguins 21 goals and 42 assists.
The Predators do have Pekka Rinne in net, and they have been riding this hot goaltender throughout the playoffs. With one of the strongest defensive cores in the league, with the acquisition of P.K. Subban, the Preds have the defensive edge. But with enough shots from multiple offensive threats, any goalie can be broken in the Stanley Cup. And when the floodgates open, they’re hard to close. Rinne will need to hold tight to that 1.70 Goals Against Average if the Preds hope to stand a chance in this series.
An honest look would say that things don’t look great for Nashville, but win or lose, Mike Fisher still gets to go home to the one and only Carrie Underwood.
(Courtesy of John Russell / NHL via Getty Images)
And if that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is.