I am really excited that the finals are actually upon us. I can imagine what it would feel like if we had waited until next weekend for the games to start. It's seemed odd with just a couple of nights off.
It appears that the Penguins will be at full strength and the Wings will still be somewhat hobbled with Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Draper sidelined for tonight's game. Nick Lidstrom and Jonathon Ericsson will play. It's amazing that Ericsson can recover that quickly from even minor surgery.
I really expect that both teams will be holding their cards close to the vest and we won't see a lot of chance taking early. Pittsburgh will be trying to get off to a better start than they did last year and Detroit will play their usual style of game waiting for the Pens to make a mistake or two.
A lot is being made over Marion Hossa changing teams in a finals rematch for only the second time in history. I don't see this as anything other than a story line as he wasn't a longtime Pen last season. The guy simply wants a cup and was pretty smart about looking for a new team to play for in order to do it.
Ryan at the RLD has the NHL09 version of tonight's game with a result that may be fairly accurate. His sim has the Wings winning 3-0. I would actually be surprised to see a shutout but I think Detroit will win in a low scoring contest.
Jackson finally posted his predictions at the RedLightDistrict and he's going with the Pens in seven. He also added the "Is This the Year?" commercial from the pre-season where Sidney says, "I never want to be in this photograph again." I'm surprised we haven't seen that promoed more in the post-season.
I guess the Wings are a lock to win since TSN's Maggie the Monkey picked Pittsburgh. Maggie has a totally blemished 0-5 SCF record, and is 4-10 so far this season in the playoffs. Maggie is set to retire after this year's finals.
For those wanting audio of the road to the finals, XM204 HomeIce has podcasts of the highlights right here.
On a programing note...
I will be appearing on SportsTalkSoup on BlogTalkRadio tonight hosted by the Godfather. The show begins at 9:30 Central with an interview with ESPN's John Buccigross. Closer to 10:00, Chris Wassell, from the Program, and I will appear and give commentary on the fly about game one and discuss what we expect for the remainder of the series.
Also, on Monday's POTG Radio we will have Russ Cohen, a man of many talents and most recently author of 100 Ranger Greats. Russ also hosts two weekend hockey shows on XM Satellite Radio, writes for NHL publications, and is a founder of the Sportsology network.
In Predator Nation...
Brandon Felder has his finals prediction here and his HockeyBuzzRadio partner Paul McCann checks in here. Forechecker has his preview here.
Around the Hockey World...
Gary Bettman had his SCF presser this afternoon and reiterated much of what has been said before claiming the back to back games were planned a year ago. He also indicated that league revenues grew by 4% this year and that the salary cap could come down 5%. In regards to PHX, he said that he has spoken with every NHL owner and all are in favor of keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix.
In the AHL, the Calder Cup Finals start tonight with the Hershey Bears traveling to Maitoba for the Mooses's first date in the finals in a sold out game. Puck Daddy has a great in depth preview.
Eric Smith at BlueJacketsBuzz give a wrap up to Friday's first day at the NHL combine for prospects. This stuff is really complicated as the scouts find out everything possible about the kids from both a physical and psychological stand point. TSN has a day two live blog going here.
Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon is working hard to keep the team's free agents from leaving on July 1.
Japers Rink brings rumblings from the KHL that includes news that several teams on shaky financial ground and that another aging veteran in Donald Brashear thinking of making the jump to Russia, for the money of course. I'm sure the beating that he took from the Pred's Wade Belak has nothing to do with his wanting to leave the country.
More later... Maybe? Maybe not. It's already later...
BuddyOakes for PredsOnTheGlass