(2) Red Wings vs. (4) Penguins
Red Wings Leading Playoff Scorer: Johan Franzen 18 points (10 goals, eight assists).
Penguins Leading Playoff Scorer: Sidney Crosby, 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists).
Red Wings with Stanley Cup bling: Chris Chelios (3), Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk (2), Kris Draper (4), Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Tomas Holmstrom (4), Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Nicklas Kronwall, Brett Lebda, Nicklas Lidstrom (4), Andreas Lilja, Kirk Maltby (4), Chris Osgood (3), Brian Rafalski (3), Mikael Samuelsson, Brad Stuart, Henrik Zetterberg (right).
Penguins with Stanley Cup bling: Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Petr Sykora.
Something worthwhile about the Red Wings: Only two of the 18 players who dressed for the Red Wings in last year's Stanley Cup final are no longer with the team. Forward Dallas Drake and goaltender Dominik Hasek both retired.
Something worthwhile about the Penguins: Sidney Crosby (1.43) and Evgeni Malkin (1.29) have the third and fourth highest career playoff points-per-game averages in NHL history. Only Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61) have better averages.
Something useless about the Red Wings that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Jiri Slegr (No. 71) and Paul Coffey (No. 77) are the only two players to have worn jersey numbers in the 70s for both franchises.
Something useless about the Penguins that is vaguely connected to the Red Wings: Former Red Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli was the first opponent to record a playoff hat trick against the Penguins. As a member of the Capitals, he scored three goals in a 7-2 rout of the Penguins, April 25, 1992.
Former Penguins on the Red Wings: Ty Conklin, G; Marian Hossa, RW; Mikael Samuelsson, RW.
Former Red Wings on the Penguins: Sidney Crosby, C (He used to play for the Cole Harbour Red Wings....).
Who needs to be the difference for the Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg. He shut down the Penguins' offense on several key power play opportunities last season and for that, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. He'll need to continue to be a world-class defensive player and win his fair share of faceoffs in order to help neutralize Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Evgeni Malkin (right). He is so key to this series. He was out of gas in last season's final and that really limited the offensive output the Penguins had. In these playoffs, he has done some miraculous things with the puck and he need to continue that if the Penguins are to pull off an upset.
Best Red Wings YouTube Video We Could Find: 0:35:
Best Penguins YouTube Video We Could Find: So close:
(We got those backwards we think...)
EN Prediction: Red Wings 4-3. The Red Wings aren't as good as they were last year, primarily due to their health. The Penguins are a little better this year, primarily because of their coaching. But there's still a gap. Even if some of the parts are a little rusty or even a little cracked, the Big Red Machine is still running strong. We just have a hard time seeing the Penguins being able to fully exploit the few flaws Detroit has. If players like Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and others can't go or are even hobbled in one fashion or another, it's another story. But assuming everything is smooth in Detroit, a big assumption mind you, we see the Winged Wheel being just good enough to get by with its second consecutive Stanley Cup title.
Note: We said the Hurricanes would be a challenge in our preview for the Eastern Conference final. So put as much weight into our predictions as you want.
(Photos: Zetterberg-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Malkin-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)