PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Thanks to an incredible Game 7 double overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one step away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions.
The last team to repeat as champs was the Detroit Red Wings nearly 20 years ago. Standing in the Penguins’ way are the upstart Nashville Predators.
So, will the Penguins finish the job, or will the Predators win their first Stanley Cup?
Bob Pompeani KDKA-TV:
This is a best-of-seven that should NOT lack for entertaining and end-to-end play.
Nashville, unlike the Capitals and Blue Jackets is not as physical. They rely on speed and transition play, led by their terrific top four defensemen.
With Kris Letang out, they have more blue line depth than the Penguins, but, this group of Penguin blueliners have certainly earned their stripes with increased ice time and terrific overall play.
The goaltending to me is a push–meaning, even. Rinne has had the best numbers but Murray is technically sound and focused on another run to a ring.
Down the middle, is to me, the Penguins’ biggest advantage.
With Ryan Johansen out of this series, Nashville will have a hard time controlling both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Rest is an advantage for the Preds, since they have played three fewer games to this arrival. But, experience should be a big arrow for the Penguins. They have 156 combined Stanley Cup Finals games on their roster, compared to just five for Nashville – all provided by Mike Fisher
I like an entertaining and long series again.
Why not a third Game 7? And for the first time since 1960, a Pittsburgh team wins a championship on Pittsburgh soil, or in this case, ice.
Rich Walsh – KDKA-TV
Penguins in 7.
I think home ice will be the determining factor in this series.
I also like the Pens’ experience. They have been here before. The Stanley Cup Final is new to Nashville.
Also, you can’t forget the Pens have the best player in the world on their team. Sidney Crosby is poised to win his third Stanley Cup.
Josh Taylor – KDKA-TV
The Penguins face a team in the Final that is different from the others they’ve faced because of Nashville’s ability to create offense using four different defensemen.
Also, Pekka Rinne has been the best goaltender (at least statistically) in the entire postseason, and he’s capable of stealing a game or two just the way Craig Anderson did for Ottawa.
But his bad career history against the Pens could also continue and be ultimately bad for the Predators. This could be a high-scoring, up-and-down the rink type of series, but I think the Pens, talent, experience and coaching will give them the edge.
Pens in 7.
Casey Shea – Shea-ved Ice Blog, KDKA.com
Nashville won’t play the boring 1-3-1 we were forced to watch against Ottawa. There should be a lot more back and forth play, which could play into the Penguins’ hands. The Penguins won’t necessarily want to trade chances, but they are at their best when they can use their speed.
The atmosphere in both buildings will be fun too. Nashville’s crowds resemble a college hockey crowd. Most stand for the entire game, they chant at goalies after goals and there’s a lot of yellow. Their in-arena music choices during games range from country to hard rock and hip hop, making sure there’s something for everyone, I guess.
Personally, I think it’s great to see the support they have in a “non-traditional hockey market.”
Anyway, this figures to be a highly entertaining series. It has the makings of being a high-scoring affair, which means hopping back on the roller coaster of emotions.
If this turns into a high-flying series, it’s hard to pick against the Penguins. Nashville’s defense and goaltending are great, but I think the Penguins have too much offensive firepower for them to handle.
I think the Penguins win, but we’re still left waiting for them to win a Stanley Cup on home ice. But, we’ll still be able to celebrate at the parade.
Penguins in 6.
Colin Dunlap – 93-7 The Fan
Penguins in 6.
Albeit Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has performed so well in these playoffs, his struggles against the Pittsburgh Penguins are well-documented over his career. I think they will continue.
On top of that, while the Predators had the luxury of being able to rest some as Pittsburgh went through an arduous seven-game series and double-overtime series clinching game, they will get Patric Hornqvist back, which should serve to bolster their net front presence greatly.
I just look for the Penguins to be — and there’s no other way to put it — too fast and skilled for Nashville over the course of a series.
On top of that, if Matt Murray is at all shaky in goal for the Penguins, coach Mike Sullivan can turn to Marc-Andre Fleury and not see a drop in talent, while the same cannot be said for Nashville’s crease.
Josh Miller – 93-7 The Fan
I’m going with the Pens in 7.
Not sure if we as a city can handle another Game 7, but we have zero choice. That’s how it’s going down. This will be high scoring back and fourth action – 4-3 , 5-4 type scores.
This will be very chippy. We have two teams that like to skate fast and take a ton of shots.
Special teams and No. 30 wins this one. Have fun and buckle up for this one.
Chris Mack – 93-7 The Fan
Pens in 7.
After a long, hard road that has cost both teams key players, hockey fans’ reward is what could be the most entertaining, up and down, back and forth series of the 2017 Playoffs.
Without Ryan Johansen, I’m not sure if Nashville can keep up with Sidney Crosby’s and Evgeni Malkin’s ability to take over games. Pekka Rinne will steal a game – or two – but the Penguins will finally dance with the Cup on home ice.
Joe Starkey – 93-7 The Fan
Penguins in 7.
You don’t think it’s going less than 7, do you? I think the extra days off between games will help the weary Penguins. And I think in the end, Sidney Crosby scribbles his signature all over this one.
Paul Zeise – 93-7 The Fan
Penguins in 5.
Nashville is a nice little story. The Predators aren’t ready for Prime Time yet! I think it will be five close games, but four of them will be won by the Penguins and mostly because they have the best coach in the league and the best two players on the planet.
Robert Suhr – NewsRadio 1020 KDKA
Penguins in 7.
The Pens have already defeated the best remaining team in the Ottawa Senators. Now, they get a Nashville Predators team that clinched the final Western Conference playoff spot with three regular season games remaining. Despite losing the game, they clinched a spot to St Louis 4-1 (They clinched when L.A. lost to Arizona).
In fact, the Preds lost 5 of 7 leading into postseason play. But, they flipped a switch in the postseason, and have lost just FOUR games since, and only one of those losses has been at home (The Pens have lost 7 times).
On paper, the Preds matchup well with the Penguins. They are a really, really good team. But, “really, really good” is not “Elite,” which is what the Penguins are.
Jim Colony – 93-7 The Fan
I almost always pick a 6-game series, and usually pick the Pens so this is no different. Plus, they have clinched all 4 Cups so far on the road.
Nashville’s top-4 defensemen may be as advertised, but as the minutes add up over the course of the series that could swing that position’s edge toward the Penguins, whose 6 D-men play close to equal minutes. Center is a huge advantage to the Pens and the goalies are even. Murray’s playoff numbers are actually better than Rinne’s.
Penguins in 6.
Andrew Fillipponi – 93-7 The Fan
Penguins in 6.
Depth wins the the Penguins the Cup. Crosby and Malkin will get held in check by the Predators’ top 4 defensemen.
Watch Bonino, Rust, and Hornqvist breakout with big series. Murray outplays Rinne. The Nashville centers stink. Sissons would be on the Penguins’ 4th line.
Fisher would be out of the lineup (Sorry, Carrie).
Chris Mueller – 93-7 The Fan
Penguins in 6. Nashville is a great story, with a rabid fan base and a goalie who has been very good to exceptional throughout these playoffs. They have one of the most exciting players in the league in P.K. Subban, plus three other top-level, puck-moving defensemen.
What they don’t have? Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and the experience of having been there and done that.
Plus, with no Ryan Johansen, the Penguins have an even more pronounced advantage down the middle. This will be a fun series, but much like San Jose last year, never one in much doubt.