After a 4-1 series win over the rival Chicago Blackhawks, there’s just one team standing between the Detroit Red Wings and back-to-back Stanley Cups: the Pittsburgh Penguins, their finals opponent in 2008.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood (L) and Tomas Holmstrom wave to the fans after the Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference Final hockey series to win the series in Detroit, Michigan, May 27, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
The series will mark the first time since 1984 that two teams have rematched in the finals, when the Edmonton Oilers beat the New York Islanders to avenge their loss from the previous year.
Injuries are the main concern for Detroit going into the series, as defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Pavel Datsyuk are both battling nagging injuries.
Lidstrom is expected to play in Game One but Datsyuk’s status is uncertain as is the status of backup defenseman Jonathan Ericcson. Forward Kris Draper is still listed as doubtful for the Red Wings.
The Penguins are one of the few teams capable of matching Detroit’s high-powered offense, as they lead the NHL in post-season scoring, but Detroit is second in scoring while also boasting the second-best defense in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh also boasts the two players tied for the post-season scoring lead with 28 points each, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but Detroit counters with a balanced lineup featuring 6 of the top 20 playoff scorers in the NHL.
Abdelkader gets ice time
Justin Abdelkader, a 22-year-old backup center, played four games against Chicago.
E-mail inquiries about Abdelkader’s ethnicity were not answered by Red Wings officials but Abdelkader is a common Arabic last name.