Sports

Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final

Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final

The Nashville Predators however may have something to say about that. Over a year later, every team in the league had a shot at the No. 1 pick following the 04-05 lockout, but the Pens - one of four teams with the maximum three lottery balls - emerged as the victor of the Crosby sweepstakes.

What head coach Peter Laviolette does have at his disposal, however, are two defensive pairs that can capably counter the Pens top two lines with P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm likely to match Crosby and Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis likely to combat Malkin and perhaps Phil Kessel, if the Penguins keep the two together.

The Penguins can become the first repeat champions of the salary-cap era, the Predators meanwhile, who mustered just 94 regular season points and took the second wild card in the Western Conference, began the playoffs as 30-1 outsiders.

"They're definitely a fast puck-possession team", said Forsberg.

Chris Kunitz scored his second goal of the game at 5:09 in double overtime to send the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference finals Thursday. Pittsburgh's Mike Sullivan is a former Lightning assistant under another US -born coach, John Tortorella. But when the Penguins winger eventually gets in the line-up, don't expect him to focus on Nashville Predators forward James Neal. He leads playoff goaltenders in all three categories.

"We can play anywhere against anyone".

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At the same time, an argument can be made that the Penguins Fearsome Foursome of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen combine to form the best cache of centre icemen of any team in the game today - certainly when it comes to the postseason anyway. "Their first concern is our health and making sure we're good, and their second concern is getting us back to playing".

"I think I had that appreciation coming in, but I think just going through it and understanding how tough it is to win, you need some bounces, you need some luck along the way", Crosby said.

The Penguins were the NHL's worst team in the 2003-04 season, but it was the Capitals who drew the first pick and opted for Alex Ovechkin. Then-owner Abe Pollin fired him after a disappointing 1996-97 season, and with Nashville entering the league as an expansion franchise, he became the Predators' first general manager. (For more, see Steve Dangle, the boy wonder of trade trees).

For a lot of the Penguins' players this Cup run is about a lot more than just themselves in the locker room, it has turned into a whole family affair.

"I had a good year". Adam Oates was sacked as the coach, as was general manager George McPhee.

Here's betting with Crosby and Malkin, the two leading scorers in the playoffs, two best players in the series and two of the finest post-season performers in National Hockey League history. Both Laviolette and Sullivan have stressed the series is about the players, but there's no denying the ability of both men to cut through the noise. While Filip Forsberg is their leading scorer (15 points) with Ryan Johansen (thigh surgery) out, a top challenge for the Penguins is neutralizing Nashville's blue line. Rinne? He has a.941 save percentage in these playoffs, as Nashville rolled over the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks to get into the championship series.

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A Sri Lankan boy holds a food packet as he wades through a flooded street in Colombo, Sri Lanka , Sunday, May 28, 2017. A second Indian vessel was due to arrive in Colombo on Sunday, with a third expected Monday, the government said.

Everyone knows of the BIG trade that reshaped both franchises sending then Predator captain Shea Weber to Montreal and Subban heading to Nashville.

Almost one year ago the Montreal Canadiens traded Subban, one of the NHL's best defensemen and the face of the franchise, to the Predators for Shea Weber in a deal that will be scrutinized for decades in Montreal.

It was around this point in his workload previous year - he started 80 games between the regular season and playoffs - that Rinne (up to 77 games) really came undone. Washington allowed 2.77 goals per game in its 13 playoff games.

"It's a new series".

"Most of their guys won it previous year and know what's coming at them", Predators Defenseman Yannick Weber said Sunday. "But for whatever reason, it didn't happen. I always felt that one day we would be in this situation", Rinne said, per NBCSports.com's Adam Gretz. "I mean, this year, it just seemed to fall in place at the right time".

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