Today is Memorial Day, a day where we honor those fallen in combat. Today is also the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals, where two of the NHL's top teams compete for one of the most prestigious trophies in sports: the Stanley Cup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, headed by their "HBK" line and Sidney Crosby, are back in the Finals for the first time since 2009. The San Jose Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time ever (You'd think that a team as consistent as the Sharks would've gotten to the Finals more often). Who will hoist Lord Stanley come the middle of June? Will Crosby get to hold the Cup for the second time or will the Sharks take home their first title?
PREDICTION: Penguins in six. I know what you're thinking. You hate me because I'm picking Sidney Crosby to win. You're thinking about how San Jose has had some lethal goal scorers this postseason in Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, and Logan Couture. They've also got Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau's veteran presence(s) along with a 'killer' power play (27% in the playoffs) to boot. San Jose also likes to get physical with their opponents; they'll try to end the game in the first ten minutes.
However, there is a team similar to the Sharks that the Penguins have faced in the playoffs already in the Washington Capitals. Washington was a team with plenty of depth who can also knock you around. Pittsburgh took care of business with the Caps.
The Pens have some great offensive weapons aside from Crosby. Phil Kessel, who's a part of that "HBK" line, has nine goals in the playoffs (he has 18 points in the playoffs). Patric Hornqvist has seven goals in the playoffs as well.
Pittsburgh has also gotten some help from an unexpected source in the postseason in Matt Murray, who's taken over for an injured Marc-Andre Fleury. He has a save percentage of .924 in the postseason to go with a GAA of 2.22. Compared to San Jose's Martin Jones, who has a save percentage of .917 and a GAA of 2.12 in the postseason, Murray looks to be on par with his Stanley Cup goaltending opponent.
If the Penguins can avoid the penalty box at all costs and take the Sharks out of their game, the Cup will be chilling in Pittsburgh this summer. Otherwise, you can add San Jose to the list of championship teams in the Bay Area.