The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to win their second straight Stanley Cup and become the first team to win back to back championships since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings.
How they got here
The Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators in a hard fought series that went the distance. Double overtime was needed in Game 7, where veteran winger Chris Kunitz led the way. Kunitz scored two goals, including the series clincher in double overtime.
Matthew Murray has been solid since taking over for Marc-Andre Fleury. In four starts, Murray has gone 3-1 with a goals against average of 1.35. Murray, who is still a rookie, is playing in his second Stanley Cup Final in as many years.
The Nashville Predators took care of the Anaheim Ducks in six games after defeating both the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks. The last time a bottom seed won the Stanley Cup was 2012, when the Los Angeles Kings shocked the hockey world.
Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne has been stellar in these playoffs, posting a .941 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.71 through 16 games.
The Predators arguably have the best defensive core in the NHL, with P.K. Subban and Roman Josi leading the way. Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm compliment Subban and Josi well by playing more of a defensive game. Subban and Ekholm will most likely matchup against Sidney Crosby’s line, which will be an intriguing battle to watch.
Predators’ centerman Ryan Johansen suffered a season-ending injury in the Western Conference Final. With the loss of Johansen, the Penguins have a major advantage. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino, and Matt Cullen down the middle, the Pens will look to exploit the Predators at the center position.
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz have found some old magic, as they have been playing on the same line for a majority of these playoffs. Kunitz’s physical play gives Crosby more room to work with, leading to more opportunities in the offensive zone.
The majority of the Penguins’ roster has won a Stanley Cup, while only one member of the Predators has made a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Predators’ captain Mike Fisher was a member of the Ottawa Senators in 2007 when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Final.
Speed will be a factor in this series, as both teams like to play with pace. The goaltending battle between Pekka Rinne and Matt Murray will also prove to be important, with both goalies playing at the top of their game.
After seeing the Penguins pick up their play in Games 4-7 against the Senators, it looks like the Pens are just getting started.
Penguins in six.