Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hockey Fanatic Stanley Cup Endorsement 2007

And now for the moment I know all my readers have been waiting for! The one post that will saddle the NHL franchise with my endorsement of being favorites to win it all this season. Regretfully, last year's pick let me down as I thought the Senators would be a better show and have learned from the sins of their past. But they didn't and invested in a lot of the wrong free agents. Undaunted, I am going to try again and put all my "chips" on the one team that surely won't let me down. I didn't use any saber metrics or any lengthy look at statistics. Heck, I didn't even look at the season series outcomes.

Now, I realize that one look at my page, it makes pretty clear where my priorities lie. But I want to make one thing clear, my decision to endorse my hometown team as my favorite to win the Stanley Cup was not a homer pick. I would gladly see another deserving team hoist the Stanley Cup, but soon you will read just how and why I reached the decision that I did.

Starting out, I believe that this year the Pittsburgh Penguins are a team of destiny. It was a magical moment that was getting the top pick for Crosby, so much so, that the media coverage surrounding this team can get quite interesting at times. Some chose to stay bitter and hate the hype, but still others embrace the romanticism of a team that would not give up hope on it's future. The Penguins fans are the type that can rival Detroit, Toronto, and Montreal as thee "hockeytown" because of the way that the fans rallied to save the team that they love.

I couldn't describe it any better than this brilliant snip-it from Katie who is controversially quoted with this idea:
Plus, anyone that has a soul is rooting for the Penguins, and (surprisingly enough) I haven't sold mine off yet.
She is certainly right that the Penguins have garnished their appeal by struggling through and emerging on top of some real serious adversity. No team in recent memory has had to put up with the constant issue of the team moving. I think that earned a little attention continent-wide.

Speaking of adversity, did you see how the Penguins have come through in the clutch? And they don't have to rely on their stars to do it either! Is Emery having re-occurring nightmares of Talbot wrist-shotting a rocket of a puck up and over his shoulder?

The next piece of evidence that I would like to present is that this is the Penguins year is the commonality between the Penguins first Stanley Cup wins and today. In 1990 and 1991, the hit movie of those years Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 and 2 came out. Guess what hit movie is in theaters this year! That's right. TMNT. Coincidence? Probably.

There is also the case of the veterans that were pivotal to the success of the season. Roberts was highly sought out by Ottawa at the trading deadline, but it was the Penguins who were able to fit all the puzzle pieces together. Shero's predecessor was able to come up with a couple of blockbuster trades at the deadline to get the team over the hump. Even if Roberts is in his twilight years, the Penguins have a key ingredient that balances out the lines allowing Coach Therrien to juggle the lines by spreading out the talent to all three lines.

This team was not expected to do much because of the lack of experience. This team has plenty of playoff experience! Whitney, Talbot, Fleury and company have seen a couple of great playoff runs in the AHL. Sure, the competition isn't as fierce as the major leagues, but they have played in the post season! Crosby has his own playoff push with Rimouski in the CHL Memorial Cup run. So, I don't think that these playoffs are going to be of any surprise to this young team.

How many teams have two (2) Calder trophy candidates? The learning curve for Malkin and Staal have slopped steeply and there is nowhere to go but grow into the dominating players they have the potential to be.

Good luck to all the teams in the NHL playoffs. Please keep in mind, fans, that this is just a game. Please support your teams and represent them with dignity!
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