Well folks its finally here. Starting on Monday May 29th, the Cup finals will be coming to us live from Pittsburgh. The Pens are 4 wins away from repeating and becoming the first team to do so since the Red Wings of 1997 and 1998. One the other side, the Preds have been riding a wave of confidence and have defeated the Hawks (in spectacular fashion 4-0), the Blues (4-2), and the Ducks (4-2). This is setting up to be a potentially fast, skilled, and highlight reel filled cup final which I personally, am excited for. Let’s take a look at who has the advantage in key factors of the game.
Home Ice: Nashville
While the Pens have a heck of a home atmosphere, Nashville has gone completely nuts. To be fair, they always have been nuts. The home atmosphere at a Nashville is rowdy and loud. The fans literally never shut up. Which shows why the Preds have always been tough to beat at home, especially this year. The Pens will have a hard time winning on the road and it will be be very important for them to get one on the road.
This should be fairly obvious to everyone that the Pens have a better offense than the Preds. With names like Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and a plethora of others, the Pens are deadly from line 1 to line 4. The Preds have a good offense yes but with guys like Fiala, Johansen, and possibly Fisher out, the Preds are going to have to look to others to score, especially their d-men. Even if they were in the line up, the Pens offense is still more lethal. With 3 solid Centers in Crosby, Malkin, and Bonino, the Pens are going to make the Preds life a living hell on the offensive end of the puck. It will be up to the Preds defense to stop them, otherwise, this series could be over very fast.
Nashville has the better of the D-core here. Their top 4 defensemen have been playing their roles, and then some. They have been active on the offensive side of things and have still helped out Rinne blocking shots and forcing forwards to make plays that they don’t want to make. The Pens on the other hand will have to step it up, especially that Letang has been out all of the playoffs. If the Preds want any chance of winning this series; Subban, Josi, Ellis, and Ekholm will have to play on both sides of the puck as they have in series past. It will be up to them to keep games close and give the Preds a fighting chance.
Yes I know Murray only just started playing this playoff season and Rinne has been playing the whole time. However, Murray already has a cup and knows what it takes to win. This is Rinne’s best post season performance. However, as we know from the past, he could mentally blow up at any time. I, however, do not think this will happen this year. He has proven in all three series that he is up to the task. To me this will be one of the most important factors of the series. How these guys will play will be the difference between a win or a loss. At this point, it is far too close for me to pick a clear winner. Both goalies have the potential to steal games because of their amazing performances. Because of this, it’s a tie.
Prediction: Pens in 6
I think this one is going to be super close and extremely heated. However, I think that the experience and the offense of the Pens will be too much for the Preds to handle. However, who knows what may happen here. After all, I have bet agains the Preds multiple times and they have proven me wrong. Buckle up ladies and gents, this one is going to be amazing.