Friday, May 29, 2009

Cup Finals Preview 2009

PhotobucketWow, I didn't think I would ever need to use this graphic again, but here it is. Another Red Wings/Penguins Cup Final and we're gearing it up for a start tomorrow night. This should be one hell of a rematch, with all sorts of story lines attached to it, but I think we'll just focus on the pool at hand... the playoff pool that is.

I suppose we can just start at the top and work our way down. That seems to be only fair, right? Well, we have another new leader coming out of the Conference Finals, Steve W. will carry a 1-point lead over Mike D., who is shorthanded, compared to Steve. Mike then holds a slim 4-point lead over Trevor B., who also holds a 3-point lead over both Brad W. and Chris M.. It still remains tight, as Mike E. is only one point back of those two tied for 4th, while Paul W. sits just 3 points behind 6th, also carrying 6 players into the Finals.

The top seven teams are now statistically legitimate to win money here, but looking at the remaining players on each team, this could really come down to one team in this final deciding it all.

Let's start in the East with the Penguins. Mike D. has himself in a bit of a hole going into the Finals with only two Penguins and one of them is a defenseman. Four teams, as you can see below, have the combination of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. These are the three best Penguins in the pool and are more than likely the best three to have in these Finals. If the Penguins are to go all the way, there is a great chance that the four teams with this combination will be finishing in the money.

PlayerSteve W.Mike D.Trevor B.Brad W.Chris M.Mike E.Paul W.
Evgeni Malkinxxxxx
Sidney Crosbyxxxxxx
Bill Guerinx
Jordan Staalx
Ruslan Fedotenkox
Kris Letangx
Marc-Andre Fleuryxxxxx

In the West, however, there is plenty of differences to make this race all the more interesting. Again, Mike D. shoots himself in the foot with only two Red Wings going into the Finals, including the wash out Johan Franzen, so really in this race, he only has one. Marian Hossa is a popular pick below second place, which nearly washes him out completely. Mike E. is the only team to have Chris Osgood, which could be a big benefit if the Red Wings are to sweep for the win.
PlayerSteve W.Mike D.Trevor B.Brad W.Chris M.Mike E.Paul W.
Pavel Datsyukx
Henrik Zetterbergxx
Marian Hossaxxxxx
Johan Franzenxxxxxxx
Jiri Hudlerx
Mikael Samuelssonx
Nicklas Lidstromxx
Chris Osgoodx

There doesn't look like there is going to be a great deal of movement through the pool's top seven, but with the right kind of results, we'll at least see some. I am expecting to see Mike D. drop out of the top four, just due to the fact that he isn't carrying enough players going forward, missing some important names like Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury, just to name a couple.

Game-Winning Goals
PhotobucketWell, going over the GWG bonus points, Evgeni Malkin leads all players going into this series with 3 winners. One Penguins player, Bill Guerin, and two Red Wings, Johan Franzen & Mikael Samuelsson, enter the series with 2 winners a piece. In the top seven, Brad W. leads all teams with 20 GWG bonus points, followed closely by Mike E. with 18. Those numbers are better reflected with the entire team, rather than the remaining six players on either team.

Going into the Cup Finals, there is a lot of concern about the overall health of both Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom, which can also have a major effect on the final standings as well. Datsyuk remains questionable for Game 1 with his lower body injury, a bruised foot, while Lidstrom is expected to play in Game 1. If Datsyuk cannot go, it's a distinct disadvantage to Chris M. going forward.

For the Penguins, they are likely going to go with the line-up that got the team to the Finals, meaning that both Petr Sykora and Alex Goligoski should be sitting out for the Penguins. Neither player will figure into the end result for the money, as no team in the top seven has these players.

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