NHL: Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight
DETROIT ó Sid the Kid is set to take on Hockeytown.
With all due respect to the NHL’s other 28 teams, no other Stanley Cup finals matchup could sizzle quite like this one.
Sidney Crosby has lived up to the hype, and in his third NHL season has the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1992 ó when Mario Lemieux took the black and gold to the title.
To earn their third championship, the Penguins will have to overcome Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and the rest of the Red Wings. It all starts tonight in Joe Louis Arena, where fan-tossed octopi will smack the ice as they have for decades of playoff hockey in Detroit.
If a matchup ever was going to capture the attention of the casual sports fan and make the NHL matter during its showcase event, this seems to be the one to do it.
“It remains to be seen. I can’t say I hope this series goes long,” 46-year-old Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios said Friday. “On paper it’s so even ó the stats, the matchups. You look at the rosters and there are stars and skill.
“I couldn’t think of a better matchup, and I think everybody is happy that this is the way it ended up turning out.”
The Red Wings are making their first appearance in the finals since winning the championship in 2002 over Carolina in the last title series played entirely in the Eastern time zone. Detroit is the last team to repeat as champion, doing it in 1997 and 1998 ó six years after Pittsburgh pulled off the feat.
Crosby already has a scoring title and MVP award on his mantle. Now, he is four wins from a championship.
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