Only two of sixteen teams remain in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those two teams are the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators. Both teams have had remarkable seasons and a bumpy ride to get to the finals, but here they are.
Will the Pittsburgh Penguins be the first franchise to win back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in about twenty years, and the first team to repeat since the salary cap era started in 2005? Pittsburgh is four wins away from making history and cementing their dynasty in stone.
Or will we see the Nashville Predators lift the Stanley Cup at the end of the series? Nashville finished as the #16 seed of the playoffs, they are on the verge of winning it all.
This is the first Stanley Cup Final that Nashville has ever made it to since they joined the league. Their post-season dominance has been evident through the three playoff series they have won. Nashville made a statement in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sweeping top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in four games. In the second round, the faced the heavy hitting, unbreakable defense of St. Louis and won in six games. Much like round two, the next round Nashville faced the Anaheim Ducks, who are just as heavy hitters as the previous team, and better offensively. Nothing slowed the Predators down, as they went on to win in six games. Nashville is battle-tested, and they look to take on the Penguins on 5/29 at 8 P.M. EST.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are also battle-tested. They have had an extremely hard road to the Stanley Cup Final. They had to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in round one, Washington Capitals in round two, and Ottawa Senators in round three. The first two rounds were major rivalries, where the Penguins came out on top against two top teams in the league. Ottawa provided the hardest fight shockingly for the Penguins, taking them to double overtime in game 7 before the Penguins scored the winning goal to advance to the finals.
What is extremely impressive about this post-season run for the Pittsburgh Penguins is they have made it through the entire playoffs without their world class defender Kris Letang on the back end. Kris Letang was a major part of the 2016 championship team of Pittsburgh, and suffered a neck injury that kept him out of most of the regular season and will be keeping him out keeping him out of all of the 2017 playoffs as he needed season ending surgery on his neck. Kris Letang logged around thirty minutes per game in the playoffs in 2016, and without him, there has not been a true number one defender on Pittsburgh to replace him, all the more impressive. It will be a battle with Nashville just like every other series has been for the Penguins to win the cup.
David Poile, GM of the Nashville Predators shocked the hockey world last summer, by trading his captain, cornerstone defender Shea Weber for P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. At the time, nobody knew who won the trade, but as of now, it looks like Nashville won the trade.
Nashville is built on defense, and goaltending, which is said to win championships. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has the best offense in the playoffs. Which playing style will lead to victory?
My prediction for the series is Penguins in 7. We can expect an exciting series!