Round 3, fight!

Hockey’s “Final Four” starts today, with the Chicago Blackhawks facing off against the Detroit Red Wings in the

Series: Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (4)

My prediction: Red Wings in 7, but if the ‘Hawks win, they’ll have to do it in 6.

Thoughts: Has any team gone from non-playoff contention to Stanley Cup winner?

Actually, yes. The Montreal Canadiens did not make the playoffs in 1970, but won the Stanley Cup in 1971 (ironically, at the expense of the Blackhawks). So, a team can turn it around in a year and go from zeroes to heroes. And the Blackhawks can be that team.

But let’s be realistic here. The Red Wings are pretty much the same team as they were last year, minus Dominick Hasek (who was a non-factor) and plus Marian Hossa (who helped the Penguins reach the Finals last year). They are an awesome team that became a little awesome-r with the addition of Hossa.

I don’t think goaltender Chris Osgood can carry the Red Wings, but they have so many high-scoring players that it does not make a difference. Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa are all deadly with the puck, and Nick Lidstrom ain’t no slouch, either.

But the Blackhawks won’t go down easily. They made it this far for a reason. They, too, have a lot of scoring potential, with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp. Maybe these guys aren’t as dynamic as the Red Wings scorers–yet–but they’ve all come through in the past two series.

Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)

My Prediction: Penguins in 7.

Thoughts: At this point, no team is just going to roll over and die. The Penguins will win the series, but it will be another hard-fought battle. The Hurricanes bumped off two teams ranked above them–the Devils in Round 1 and the Bruins in Round 2. Clearly, this team is for real.

So are the Penguins. They have two of the best players in the league–Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Bill Guerin has been stepping it up too. As the Penguins proved in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, their offense can be devastating.

Really, it will have to be Pittsburgh’s offense that wins this series. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has not proven himself to be a standout goaltender, and stands to be the Penguins biggest weakness. Things will get troublesome if the ‘Canes learn how to exploit that weakness. Of course, they did solve Martin Brodeur.

Looks like it’s going to be another Detroit-Pittsburgh matchup in the Stanley Cup Finals. But, I would love it to be Chicago-Pittsburgh–even more so because the Penguins are my sister’s favorite team, and she still won’t drop the fact that the Penguins beat the Blackhawks in the 1992 finals. A rematch is long overdue.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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