(NOTE TO THOSE WHO READ THIS POST ALREADY: I added a video and a couple of notes at the end. I didn't feel like making another entry just for them so check it out if they weren't there when you were here.)
So the final match-up is set. The Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Detroit Red Wings. I can't believe it but after a postseason that seemed to be brimming with teams I wanted to lose miserably, we've ended up with two teams I'm actually okay with. I like the spunky, youthful Penguins and if my life had gone as I'd planned it at age twelve, I'd be living in Pittsburgh and probably rooting for them. (Of course, I'd also be catching for the Pirates and raising five kids. Clearly fate had its own ideas.) But I like the experienced, professional Red Wings too although I didn't really watch much of them until this past round against Dallas and I turned a couple of those games off early. Patty, my token Western Conference friend, claims I would hate the Wings if I had to play/watch them all the time and that might be true. But for now, the Wings are really Nicklas Lidstrom in my mind. And I love him. I want him to teach me to play hockey.
Oddly enough however now that we're down to two teams I like, I'm just not feeling much interest in who comes out on top. I don't know if I've watched all the non-Sabres hockey I can in one year - after all, they were only out of the last round in the last two seasons and I've now watched three rounds - or if I really need to have a team to cheer against but I'm feeling very blah. But come Saturday I'll sit down in front of the TV and see where my heart takes me. Maybe that Red Wings hate will finally kick in and maybe I'll decide they've had their chance already. Maybe I'll decide I'm sick of seeing shots of Mario Lemieux in the owner's box and maybe I'll decide I don't want the Penguins to succeed so soon or with a big rental player. Who knows? We'll see.
(And by the way, Saturday? These guys need four days off? I thought they were hockey players!)
As far as predictions go, I'm taking the Red Wings. The Penguins have been very impressive but none of the teams they've played played particularly well. Some of that can be attributed to them but I think some of it was just teams playing crap hockey. I don't think they've faced anything like the challenge Detroit is going to give them. Detroit played an overmatched Nashville team and a beat up Colorado team but they also played a very good Dallas team. Dallas was probably the best non-finalist team over the course of the playoffs. Pittsburgh may take a couple of games but I think that's all they'll get this season. DETROIT IN SIX.
ETA: I just saw this commercial on Yahoo's Hockey Blog (I can't quite say "Puck Daddy" yet because it's totally ridiculous). It's so beautiful. The images, the music, the tag line at the end... all perfect. It makes me want the Finals to start immediately.
I also remembered that one reason I wouldn't mind the Red Wings winning is because it would make Nicklas Lidstrom the first European captain of a Cup winning team. I'd love for that to happen and I'd love for it to be him.
(Despite the fact that "Puck Daddy" is a goofy name, you should check it out if you haven't already. Greg W. is doing really good work over there and the title actually does fit the smart but fun, occasionally silly, tone. When I get around to updating my blogroll, it's going up there.)