2017 Stanley Cup Final Preview - 3 Key Storylines Penguins vs Predators

 

We have ourselves a matchup to determined the NHL champion. I can’t wait for this matchup. It’s star power versus ultimate team play. Let the fun begin.

2017 Stanley Cup Final Preview – 3 Key Storylines Penguins vs Predators

It’ll be interesting to see how the ratings for Pittsburgh versus Nashville are for this final. We’re not talking about two huge television markets here. But we do have star power, feel-good stories and two teams playing very good hockey.

Here’s a look at our 2017 Stanley Cup Final preview and the three keys to this series.

Goaltending

On one side you have veteran Pekka Rinne, a good goaltender who is finally having a great postseason. It’s amazing to see what he is doing, how he has elevated his player this deep into his career. Rinne was so-so in the regular season, so no one really saw this playoff performance coming. But he’s in the midst of tremendous play right now and hasn’t had back-to-back bad games.

On the other side, Penguins goalie Matt Murray was supposed to be the playoff starter until he was hurt before the playoffs began. Marc-Andre Fleury did a masterful job until the coaching staff decided to go back to Murray. So his biggest strength could be that he’s the freshest player on the team. Should Murray, who was stellar in last season’s playoff title run, falter at any point, will the coach yank him like he did Fleury?

For the moment, I give Rinne the slight edge, seeing as he’s been tested more than Murray so far.

Star Power

The Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to injury and that was supposed to hurt them. But they prevailed over the Ducks. They don’t really have a lot of flashy stars, save for PK Subban. Meanwhile, the Penguins not only have legends like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but they seem to be grooming legends in the making like Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust. It’s sort of reminiscent of how Lidstrom and Yzerman of the Wings groomed Zetterberg. So the impact and clutch player edge is hugely on the Pens side.

D

But here’s the equalizer – the Penguins haven’t faced a defense like this all postseason. Nashville can trot out four all-star caliber rearguards who will make life on the Pitt forwards miserable. On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s D has been a patch job due to injuries and they have defied expectations – and then some!

So it’s really tough to say who will come out on top of this interesting duel. I do think that the Johansen injury will play a role and the Pens will win in Game 6 in overtime. That’s my prediction? What’s yours? Leave in the DeadHitSports forum.

Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.