Monday, May 29, 2017

Penguins-Predators Stanley Cup Final Preview

If you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, (or Anaheim Ducks or Ottawa Senators; sorry), or professional hockey, you know that the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals begin on Monday. The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to be the first team to earn back-to-back titles since 1997-1998. Meanwhile, this is the Nashville Predators first trip to the finals in franchise history.

I should probably mention that if you're looking for a thorough preview breaking down puck possession, goalie tendencies, and basically, anything hockey related, you should probably go somewhere else. Think of this as the preview that you didn't know that you needed.

James Neal (now of Nashville) and Patric Hornqvist (now of Pittsburgh) were once traded for each other. Really. This is going to blow your mind. Neal played for the Penguins from 2011-2014 including during the 2011-2012 season where he scored 40 goals and had 81 points. Hornqvist started his career in Nashville and played for the Predators for six seasons. You may hear about this trade once or twice during the finals.

The National Anthem debate. Jeff Jimerson will sing the national anthem for every Penguins home game, but the big question is who will perform the anthem in Nashville. The "regular" anthem singer, Dennis K. Morgan, has been replaced during this playoff run by Nashville residents Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, the "captain's wife," better known as Carrie Underwood, and others. Morgan is not happy about this. Anyway, it will be interesting to see who will perform during the Stanley Cup Finals. Underwood? Garth Brooks? A Johnny Cash hologram?

Nashville is a hockey town (now). This is something else you may hear once or 7,000 times! I went to a Nashville and a Preds game in December (I really may write a blog post about it some day) and had an awesome time. The crowd was totally into the game, and it was an amazing atmosphere. If I wasn't a Penguins fan, I would definitely be rooting for Nashville.

Nashville and Pittsburgh have a rich playoff history against each other. And by rich, I mean one game where the Steelers lost to the Titans on January 11, 2003. Stupid Joe Nedney. (The Predators should have Nedney appear at every home game, though this would really only troll Pittsburgh sports fans since no players on the Pens or Preds would care about this.)

Olli Maatta of the Pens is from Finland and played on his country's Olympic hockey team. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is also from Finland and played on the Olympic hockey team. The finals should be a ratings bonanza in Finland!

At the beginning of the 2008 NFL season, the Titans defeated the Steelers and Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck stomped on the Terrible Towel. Naturally, karma kicked in and the Titans lost in the playoffs and the Steelers ended up winning the Super Bowl. Therefore, let's hope that Mike Fisher, Carrie Underwood's husband, does something as disrespectful (like maybe punching Marc-Andre Fleury?) to give the Penguins a little more motivation and championship.

Nashville has P.K. Subban and P.A. Parenteau. According to unnamed sources, the team is also big fans of P.B. & J sandwiches.

The University of Pittsburgh's men's basketball coach is Kevin Stallings. Before taking the job in Pittsburgh last year, he coached at Vanderbilt University for more than 15 years. The Stanley Cup Finals is essentially the Stallings Bowl! The losing team should be forced to keep Stallings.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan were both born in Massachusetts making this the first NHL final featuring two American-born coaches. USA! USA!

Finally, the Washington Capitals traded Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat. That was a really good trade for the Preds and a really bad trade for the Caps.

Let's Go Pens!

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