A preview of the conference finals.
(2) Penguins vs. (6) Flyers
Penguins with Stanley Cup bling: Petr Sykora, Gary Roberts, Darryl Sydor (2).
Flyers with Stanley Cup bling: Jim Dowd, Mike Knuble, Derian Hatcher.
Something worthwhile about the Penguins: Sidney Crosby has scored 25 career points against the Flyers, the most against any one team.
Something worthwhile about the Flyers: R.J. Umberger set a Flyers record for a five-game series against the Canadiens in the conference semifinals by scoring nine goals.
Something useless about the Penguins: The Penguins have not played outside the Eastern time zone since beating Vancouver, 2-1, in a shootout Dec. 8.
Something useless about the Flyers: The Flyers haven't played outside the Eastern time zone since losing at Colorado, 2-1, Dec. 7.
Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Hal Gill, Brooks Orpik and company. The Flyers like to attack the crease. Gill, Orpik and the rest of the Penguins defense limited the Rangers' ability to make life difficult for Marc-Andre Fleury. They'll need to do the same against the Flyers.
Who needs to be the difference for the Flyers: R.J. Umberger. He normally kills the Penguins. (He had six of his 13 goals this season against the Penguins). And he's the hottest player in the Eastern Conference right now. If this isn't his time to shine in the spotline, we don't know what is.
Best Penguins YouTube We Could Find: We used this before, but Game 6 of the 1991 Wales Conference final:
(Lord knows how they won the Stanley Cup with Lemieux groping the Prince of Wales Trophy like that.)
Best Flyers YouTube We Could Find: We've also used this before, but Ron Hextall chasing Rob Brown after scoring a goal in the 1989 Patrick Division final:
EN Prediction: Penguins, 4-2. Forget that the Flyers took five of the eight meetings against the Penguins this season. Forget that the Penguins are 0-3 all-time against the Flyers in playoff series. Forget that the Penguins have a 76-129-31 record all-time against the Flyers. None of that means anything right now. The Penguins have too much depth at forward for the Flyers defensemen to keep up with. Conversely the Penguins are deep enough on the blue line to contend with the Flyers' solid group of forwards. Martin Biron has played well for the Flyers in net, but Marc-Andre Fleury has been better.
(1) Red Wings vs. (5) Stars
Red Wings with Stanley Cup bling: Kirk Maltby (3), Kris Draper (3), Tomas Holmstrom (3), Nicklas Lidstrom (3), Chris Chelios (2), Chris Osgood (2), Pavel Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski (2), Dominik Hasek, Darren McCarty (3).
Stars with Stanley Cup bling: Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Zubov, Brad Richards.
Something worthwhile about the Red Wings: With 11 goals through two rounds, Johan Franzen already owns Detroit's franchise record for goals in a single postseason.
Something worthwhile about the Stars: Marty Turco has four shutouts in his last 19 playoff starts.
Something useless about the Red Wings: Chris Chelios is older than three coaches still in the playoffs; Detroit's Mike Babcock, Philadelphia's John Stevens and Pittsburgh's Michel Therrien.
Something useless about the Stars/North Stars: The final playoff appearance of the Minnesota North Stars was in 1992. After going up, 3-1, in the series, they fell to the Red Wings in seven games in the first round.
Who needs to be the difference for the Red Wings: Brad Stuart, Niklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Niklas Kronwall. Detroit's blue line needs to figure out a way to keep Stars captain Brenden Morrow in check. He led the Stars on offense in the conference semifinal by crashing the Sharks' crease. He'll try to do the same to Chris Osgood.
Who needs to be the difference for the Stars: Marty Turco. He has silenced critics so far who have said he can't win in the playoffs. He needs to keep them quiet a little bit longer if the Stars have any hopes of getting to the Stanley Cup final.
Best Red Wings YouTube We Could Find: Steve Yzerman handing the Stanley Cup to Scotty Bowman in 2002:
Best Stars/North Stars YouTube We Could Find: The North Stars eliminating the Blackhawks from the 1991 Norris Division semifinals:
EN Prediction: Red Wings, 4-2. The Stars have made a gutsy charge to the conference final, but the Red Wings are just too good.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-Evgeni Malkin doesn't like anybody.
-Martin Biron's playoff debut has been smooth so far.
-Gene Collier says Penguins in six.
-Sidney Crosby doesn't mind a low goal total.
-Ryan Malone and Michel Therrien held a conference call. Kukla's Korner has a the transcript.
-Alexander Ovechkin said the Penguins will win the Cup.
-It looks like someone tried to put a Penguins jersey on the Rocky statue.
-EN Reader John Bodnar spotted this at his office:
Someone shot a pretty good video from the crowd from Game 5 against the Rangers:
-The Penguins want another whiteout for Game 1.
-Today's "R.J. Umberger is from Pittsburgh" story is brought to you by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
-We're a lot like Philadelphia on this side of the state. We're just not sociopaths.
-The Penguins and Flyers don't get along.
-Riley Cote is one of the few guys in the league who will willingly fight Georges Laraque.
-The Flyers will allow fans to watch Game 1 outside of the Wachovia Center.
-Forward Scottie Upshall sounds like the Jarkko Ruutu of the Flyers.
-Is Martin Biron really as hot as everyone says he is?
-Predators coach Barry Trotz thinks Kimmo Timonen can handle Sidney Crosby.
-EN reader Stephen Kolar spotted another Penguins-Flyers connection in addition to the list we made yesterday. Jordan Staal and Steve Downie were teammates on the 2005-06 Petersborough Petes.
-The Stars are playing their best hockey in years but it's still not as good as the Red Wings.
-Brenden Morrow is the Stars' leading man.
-Detroit is wary of Dallas's power play.
-We might be going out on a limb with this one, but Red Wings forward Johan Franzen might be a key player in this series.
-Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov is still a little dinged up.
-Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood is better than he was 10 years ago.
-This just seems awesome to us for some reason. The Stars are staying at a casino for the first two games in Detroit.
-Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is dealing with a leg injury.
-Despite being on the road for the first two games of their previous series, the Stars have taken 2-0 leads in each of them.
-Stars forward Stu Barnes and defenseman Philippe Boucher are doubtful for Game 1.
-Detroit might juggle its defensive pairings.
-Octopus twirling is legal again in Detroit.
-Ryan Stone had two goals and two assists for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in an 8-4 rout of Philadelphia.
-The Phantoms gave this game to the Penguins.
-Much like their NHL affiliate, the Phantoms aren't crazy about playing by the rules.
IIHF World Championships
-Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller made 28 saves and led Switzerland to a 4-2 upset of Sweden.
-Finland got 37 saves from Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom and edged Slovakia, 3-2.
-Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist for Belarus in a 3-1 defeat of France.
-Awesomely named forward Mats Trygg recorded a goal and an assist for Norway in a 3-2 defeat of Germany.
-Lightning and United States forward Jeff Halpern suffered a knee injury.
-Hurricanes and Sweden defenseman Niclas Wallin was suspended for two games for a hit to the head on Switzerland's Roman Wick.
-The United States added Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold and Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky to its roster. Finland added Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo and Capitals defenseman Sami Lepisto.
-The Maple Leafs fired head coach Paul Maurice. We're not sure it's really fair to blame Maurice for the mess Toronto has become. We're not saying he's capable of turning it around for them either. That disaster is much bigger than Paul Maurice.
-Because every other problem between Anglo and French Canadiens has been solved, a Quebec publisher is demanding the Canadiens play more music with French language in it during games.
-The Capitals will consider bringing back forward Sergei Fedorov.
-Sharks forward Jeremy Roenick wants to return to San Jose next season.
-Random YouTube find of the day: We don't even know what to say about this: