The Stanley Cup Finals are finally here and they include the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have had their names inscribed four times on Lord Stanley’s Cup. On the opposite side of the ice, the first-time newcomers, the Nashville Predators are on the prowl.
As the Penguins and Predators look to kick things off on Monday night, there are several storylines to take into consideration. The first being that Nashville will be without Ryan Johansen, who had been impressive this postseason. Johansen suffered a thigh injury which has cost the Preds his presence for the rest of the playoffs.
“I think it will be the hardest challenge in my life,” Malkin said during 2017 Stanley Cup Final Media Day. “Usually it’s one Karlsson. Here [it’s] like four Karlssons.”
“You have to be aware of where they are,” Crosby said. “They’re so good at joining the rush. They’re so good at leading the rush. Sometimes it’s a couple of those guys coming in late for a late chance and other times they’re the first guy with the puck and taking it end to end. I think being aware of that right away is important, but I think we’re a team that prides ourselves on being good with puck possession and holding onto the puck down low. That’s something we’re going to have to establish if we want to help out that way.”
“It’s a unique challenge,” Crosby said. “When you think about playing teams you’re talking about usually forwards and you look at [Filip] Forsberg and James Neal, guys like that who are snipers, they can finish, but you don’t usually think of a group of defensemen as guys who can finish as well as they do. Usually there is one, maybe two guys that can do that in a ‘D’ corps. They have the luxury of having a number of them. That’s just something everybody has to be aware of, but at the same time we believe in our game too so if we can hold onto the puck and force them to play defense hopefully that’s something that gives us an advantage,” via NHL.com.
This might be the biggest X-factor in the series, and Nashville has ridden their four defensemen for most of the 2017 NHL playoffs. But, the Penguins’ offense is one that can score, and score quickly.
Another storyline to watch surrounds injury status of multiple players. Penguins’ winger, Patric Hornqvist, failed to play in Game 7 versus Ottawa, and his status is up in the air for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals as well. And Hornqvist would love to sink the team that he played for from 2008-12.
Often times a team that is playing in their league’s championship game for the first time is full of nerves. And that is a perfectly reasonable response, seeing as there is so much pressure surrounding the concept of winning championships.
But the Predators do not seem to be affected by the pressure at all. P.K. Subban decided to have a little fun at Media Day with teammate Mike Fisher and the incident was caught on tape by the NHL.
— NHL (@NHL) May 28, 2017
This series appears to have plenty of storylines for fans, and the action on the ice should not disappoint either.