After falling behind 3-0, both Philadelphia and Dallas forced at least one additional game in their respective series making a definitive Stanley Cup Finals schedule at this point in time a non-existent thing although if Detroit and Pittsburgh clinched quickly enough we could see Game 1 this Saturday night in Detroit.
One thing we do know is if the Red Wings advance, they will host the first two games. Another thing we know if it is Detroit against Pittsburgh, it will be the most exciting matchup of teams in the last decade in the NHL and one that TV networks Versus and NBC – who have been covering the postseason wonderfully this season – will absolutely love as well as the sports books who may see a bit more action this year because of the interest.
If Detroit does end up facing Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup, the two teams will be a sort of a mystery to each other as they did meet in the regular season. The way Detroit has been playing, with all four lines contributing and goalie Chris Osgood (1.65 GAA) putting up some nice numbers in the most memorable season of his career, makes the Wings a small favorite in this series to win it all in my opinion but you can be sure neither team will grab a stranglehold on this series which should go at least five or six games.
One thing to look into from Detroit’s point of view is the health of Johan Franzen (concussion symptoms), who set a Wings playoffs record by notching 12 goals but who has not played since Game 1 against Dallas.
With no set start date at press time, let’s handicap the first four games here and work with what we have. Daily "Playoff Puck Picks" can be found for subscribers at the paid part of our new website, www.gamingtoday.com, where Games 5, 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be broken down after a little more reality takes place on the ice.
Game 1: Penguins at Red Wings (Versus): With Detroit having won 10 straight at Joe Louis and this being the opening game, one in which Detroit has to win to hold on to the home-ice advantage in this series, logic says to take the home team and a crowd starved for some postseason satisfaction. RED WINGS.
Game 2: Penguins at Red Wings (Versus): With seven straight wins in Hockeytown heading into last Friday’s game against the Stars, Detroit is trying harder than ever to get that playoff gorilla off its back. And despite how well 21-year-old Fleury has played between the pipes so far, backing the veteran and somewhat underrated Osgood is the call. RED WINGS.
Game 3: Red Wings at Penguins: As the series moves to Pittsburgh, so should the momentum as both teams have a legitimate belief they are the best team in hockey. After reeling off 15 straight at The Igloo, the feel is the building has become simply magical to Crosby, Malkin & Co. PENGUINS.
Game 4: Red Wings at Penguins: Taking the home team because their simply at home? What is this the NBA or something? PENGUINS.