Sme has an interesting graphic previewing the Stanley Cup Finals that start tonight, with a predictable emphasis on the Slovak players on each side.
I didn’t pay much attention to it initially, until I realized that Marián Hossa’s head had been quite clearly Photoshopped onto the body of some Red Wing player who hoisted the Cup in the past. And that caused me to realize that the opposite image of Miroslav Šatan lifting the Cup for Pittsburgh was clearly doctored.
Also interesting are the keys to the series for each team.
What has to happen for Hossa and Kopecký to win the Stanley Cup?
- Goalie Chris Osgood must have the best playoff of his career. The goaltender is the weakest link for Detroit. [It’s amazing that this cliché — Osgood has backstopped the Wings to three Cups, including last season’s — has found its way into the Slovak sports media, which are clearly following the lead of their North American counterparts.]
- The defense must shut down Pittsburgh’s strongest weapons — Malkin and Crosby.
- The injured players must return. If Detroit is missing Datsyuk, Draper and captain Lidstrom, it will make its mark on the series.
- Hossa hasn’t been a very prominent figure in the playoffs, he must be more noticeable.
What has to happen for Šatan to win the Stanley Cup?
- The defense must be more consistent. Detroit has no weak lines, each one knows how to score.
- The fourth line with Miroslav Šatan should be a strong weapon, centered by Malkin and Crosby. [I have no idea either what they’re talking about; I think they just needed the obligatory “the Slovak player is an important contributor” point for their audience.”]
- A lot of goals have been scored so far on the power play. The Penguins power play has enjoyed a 20 percent success rate.
- So far goalie Fleury has only had weak play in the Washington series.
My pick is Pittsburgh, and I’ll say it goes six games. I just have a hunch that Sidney Crosby is going to take over a few more games this series and begin cementing his status as one of the game’s legends. He’s shown flashes of that already this postseason, but I think he’s primed to do it on the biggest stage, especially after the disappointing finish to last season.