You know, denial isn't a river in Egypt: it is the state of being that I am in faced with the thought of the Penguins getting a chance at Stanley's chalice. So, in upholding the dictum that ignorance is bliss, I will happily pretend that the Rangers never lost to Cindy's squad, then went on to beat the Flyers to make the Finals. So, while still a delusion, here is the Scotty Hockey Stanley Cup Finals Preview of the upcoming series between the Rangers and the Red Wings:
New York faced Detroit with Stanley on the line twice and lost both times. Joe Pelletier has the best hockey history site on the web and summed up both series: 1937 and 1950. The first time they did it without their starting goaltender and the second they were without that Gordie Howe guy (great clip of the end here). Terrible. Here is to hoping that the third time is the charm for the Blueshirts ...
Both Tom Renney and Mike Babcock have WHL roots, but Babcock has been close to the top of the mountain before as the coach of the Mighty Ducks, losing the '02 Cup Finals to the Devils in seven games. And this time he is bringing the best team in the league to the final. While he is a candidate for the Jack Adams Trophy, he did helm the best ship in the fleet so more credit should go to Renney for bringing the Rangers this far up the river.
Henrik Lundqvist is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the league and has already won several international titles. Chris Osgood is a likely Hall of Fame goaltender with a fantastic history that includes two Cup rings (along with a horrid stint as an Islander). The two put up comparable stats: Hank had a 2.23 GAA and a .912 save percentage over 72 regular season games, Ozzie got 2.09 and .914 in 43. Because of the workload differences and NHL playoff experience, the edge has to go to Osgood but it is quite close.
The one thing that tilts the table back towards Hank is that he did it behind a vastly inferior defense. There is simply no comparing the Detroit corps and the Rangers. No one wearing blue comes close to matching Nick Lidstrom or Brian Rafalski. Rozy has been our number one but he would be at least third on the depth chart for them. Tyutin comes close to Brad Stuart, Marc Staal and Nick Kronwall are about even in potential, Andreas Lilja makes about the same amount of mistakes as Christian Backman. Dan Girardi edges Brent Lebda or Kyle Quincey but hasn't been as good as he was earlier in the year, leveling the playing field.
Brendan Shanahan is facing the 'kids' who kept him young the last few years in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Unfortunately they aren't kids anymore and have turned into two of the best forwards in the league. Jagr has been dominant these playoffs, but will have to face the reunited Grind Line of Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper. This year's John Druce, Johan Franzen, has been out with concussion-like symptoms so here is to hoping he can't return. Lauri Korpikoski's rise to prominence in the end of the Pens series - along with Dawes and Cally - gives the Rangers a stable of young wingers to match up with Valtteri Flippula, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson. While Chris Drury has been willing to play in traffic (and paid the price for it), he doesn't match Tomas Holmstrom's acumen in the paint. The Rangers have to hope that Brandon Dubinsky's cinderella season continues and that Scotty Gomez skates the way he did against the Devils if they have any hope of breaking through the Wings defense.
Well, even in the land of make believe, the Rangers' season ends in heartbreak as they just can't match up to the Winged Wheel's powerhouse of a team. Let's just hope and pray that Detroit's dominance carries over to the real world so they can bring Stanley's silver back to the Motor City. The thought of Cindy raising it gives me nightmares ...
Make sure you check back here during the real Finals for coverage. I busted out my Joey Kocur jersey and am ready to watch the Wings put the Pens in their place!