Why the Penguins will win it all
1) Look at the lineup. When the lineup is reasonably intact -- which hasn't been the case very often lately -- it's not only as good as any in the league, but also significantly better than most. Skill and depth don't automatically produce championships, but that's a good way to start.
2) Stingy team defense. There's little reason to question the adage that defense wins championships, and the Penguins can play it pretty well when they focus. That was proven when they held opponents to one goal -- or none -- eight times in an 11-game stretch in the second half of the regular season.
3) Much motivation. Not everyone on this team was part of the Penguins' embarrassing, six-game loss to Philadelphia in Round 1 last April, but no one who was has forgotten how they self-immolated in that series. Also, veteran newcomers such as Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow have to realize this might be their best, if not final, opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.
Why the Penguins won't win it all
1) Untimely injuries. The Penguins lost just 82 man-games to injuries in the regular season, but core players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Paul Martin accounted for 64 of them. During a long playoff run, muscles can get strained, ligaments can tear and bones can be broken, and players who can't be adequately replaced are the ones who suffer those injuries.
2) Leaky penalty-killing. Low-scoring games are common in the playoffs, so every goal matters. And even though the Penguins did some quality work while short-handed late in the season, like not allowing a man-advantage goal in their final eight home games, they gave up a total of 34 power-play goals, tying for seventh most in the league.
3) Stuff happens. Injuries aren't the only variable that can short-circuit a promising playoff run. The course of a series can be altered by an unlikely bounce or a blown call, a slumping scorer or a suddenly unbeatable goalie on the other team. That's why winning a Cup requires not only talent and tenacity, but a little good luck.
First Published May 1, 2013 4:00 AM