Finally, the matchup everyone wanted to see. Pittsburgh. Nashville. The most devoted, historic, and traditional hockey city in the world against everyone’s favorite player Sidney Crosby. This is what everyone was expecting at the beginning of the year, so it’s good to see the two best teams in the league all season matching up for a chance at immortality. Many people were wondering why I didn’t do a Conference Finals preview. Honestly, once the Bruins and Caps lost, my interest level went down the drain. Like, I get it, Nashville does some wacky stuff in the stands and they want everyone to look at them and tell them how special they are. But I don’t care about them whatsoever. And the Penguins are just kind of there. As I’ve established before, I’m not a Hockey Guy. I’m not deep enough in the game to go on long rants about how big of a pussy Crosby is or how much I hate the Penguins 4th line center. And when I’ve got to deal with the constant existential crisis of being a Celtics fan who thinks trading amazing picks for bad players isn’t a good idea (which somehow puts me in the minority), and I just didn’t have the energy to keep up. But now I’m back, and the Hockey Gods should be thanking me for doing my best to sell this weird Final (at least the Senators didn’t make it).
I’ll keep this short and sweet, because you don’t come here for in-depth hockey analysis, you come here for takes fired from the hip. And this is pretty simple: teams don’t repeat in the NHL. They just don’t. If this were the NFL, NBA, or even MLB, you could easily say there’s no chance a team like the Nashville Predators could beat a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals. But hockey’s different. Unless you’re the Caps or maybe the Blues, hockey teams don’t really have loser DNA. Random-ass teams win the Cup all the time. Everyone just kind of forgets about it right away and moves on. The NHL has somehow turned the NFL’s greatest wet dream into reality and created true parity. I’m pretty sure the league would rather rig the Finals than have the Penguins go back-to-back. They’re going to have snipers set up in some of the luxury boxes ready to take out Crosby or Malkin if need be. Gary Bettman has the entire families of each referee scheduled to work these games held at gunpoint in some undisclosed warehouse to ensure total cooperation. The zamboni drivers have probably been instructed to leave the ice a little choppy to slow the Penguins down. For the Penguins, this series is going to be like one of those annoying bosses video games sometimes make you face even though you literally aren’t allowed to win. No one is allowed to repeat in the NHL. It would ruin the entire league’s identity. Its self-worth would be burned to the ground in front of its eyes. The only things that would prevent a mass suicide of Online Hockey Guys after a Penguins Cup would be the classiness of the Postgame Handshake Line. The very fabric of the universe might be undone if someone repeated in the NHL. Then they’d just be like that damn NBA, full of Super Teams and non-competitive games. If you already knew who was going to win, why play the games, right? It’s not like hockey produced arguably the most famous and foundational upsets in American history or anything. Having a team everyone chases would be a death knell to hockey as we know it. The Penguins can’t be allowed to win. And Nashville’s defense will stifle the Penguins attack.
Prediction: Predators in 6