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In the Air Tonight

ThejoeThe Stanley Cup Finals finally kick off tonight in Detroit, the Red Wings battling the Penguins.

A good bunch of you voted in our previous Frozen Poll, almost split in who you think is going to win this series. As of 5 p.m., 52 percent pick Detroit to win the Cup for the fourth time since 1997.

I am in agreement with you all. I pick Detroit in 6, although I wouldn't be surprised in the least if the Pens bring the Cup back to Pennsylvania. Both teams are terrific, and this is a Finals I think all of us are anticipating.

Did a preview on the Finals, but I can't find it online so I figure our readers can't either. So, as a public service, here is The Miami Herald's preview on the Cup Finals, On Frozen Pond style. You can find my story on the Finals here.

Enjoy the games kids...

2008 STANLEY CUP FINALS

Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

The series: Did not play this season. Last meeting came on Oct. 7, 2006; Detroit won 2-0.

The Playoff Road – Detroit: Top seed in Western Conference, Red Wings defeated Nashville in 6, Colorado in 4 and Dallas in 6. Pittsburgh: Second seed in Eastern Conference, Penguins defeated Ottawa in 4, New York Rangers in 5 and Philadelphia in 5.

About the Red Wings: The Red Wings have gone up in each of their first three playoff series, so it will be interesting to see how they react if they were to lose an early game to the high-flying Penguins. Goalie Chris Osgood continues to play well after taking over for Dominik Hasek during Game 4 of the opening round against Nashville. Osgood, who led the Wings to the Cup in 1998, is 10-2 this postseason. Johan Franzen, who scored 11 goals in the first two rounds, was lost in Game 1 of the conference finals with a concussion and his return to his spot in front of the net is expected to come later in the series. Franzen and veteran defenseman Chris Chelios (knee) are not expected to play in Saturday’s opener.

About the Penguins: Pittsburgh has cruised through the postseason, with youngsters Sidney Crosby (20), Evgeni Malkin (21) and Jordan Staal (19) combining 19 of the Penguins’ 51 goals (29-year-old Marian Hossa has nine). Pittsburgh is also getting a great performance from its 23-year-old goalie as Marc-Andre Fluery has stopped 94 percent of the shots seen. The Penguins are the 11th club since 1980 to enter the Finals with two or fewer playoff losses, the first since Anaheim came into the 2003 Finals at 12-2. Six of those teams have lost in the Finals, including the past three (’92 Chicago, ’95 Detroit, ’03 Anaheim).

Past Stanley Cup championships – Detroit 10 (last in 2002); Pittsburgh 2 (last in 1992).

Players who have won the Cup – Detroit (10): Chris Chelios (Montreal 85-86, Detroit 01-02); C Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit 01-02); C Kris Draper (Detroit 96-97, 97-98, 01-02); G Dominik Hasek (Detroit 01-02); LW Tomas Holmstrom (Detroit 96-97, 97-98, 01-02); D Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit 96-97, 97-98, 01-02); RW Kirk Maltby (Detroit 96-97, 97-98, 01-02); RW Darren McCarty (Detroit 96-97, 97-98, 01-02); G Chris Osgood (Detroit 96-97, 97-98); D Brian Rafalski (New Jersey 99-00, 02-03). Pittsburgh (3): LW Gary Roberts (Calgary 88-89); D Darryl Sydor (Dallas 98-99, Tampa Bay 03-04); RW Petr Sykora (New Jersey 99-00).

Did You Know?: This is the first postseason meetings for professional teams from these two cities since the 1909 World Series when Honus Wagner’s Pirates beat Ty Cobb’s Tigers in 7 games. That series predated Tiger Stadium, which stands abandoned a few miles from Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

The Schedule (All games on XM Satellite Radio): Saturday @ Detroit (Versus); Monday @ Detroit (Versus); Wednesday, May 28 @ Pittsburgh (NBC); Saturday, May 31 @ Pittsburgh (NBC); Monday, June 2 * @ Detroit (NBC); Wednesday, June 4 * @ Pittsburgh (NBC); Saturday, June 7 * @ Detroit (NBC).

The Pick: Detroit in 6. The Red Wings have a special team, one that looks unstoppable when they really want to be. Detroit has a great mix of offense and defense, and will need to limit Pittsburgh’s exciting young players. The Penguins look like they are going to have another chance at the Cup for years to come. Just not this year. Let the Octopi fly.

GEORGE RICHARDS

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