• Why The Penguins WILL Win The Stanley Cup
1 Their skill level. The depth chart is laced with world-class talent and, for a change, everyone in that group seems to be pretty healthy. Starting with superior players doesn't guarantee anything, of course, but as first steps toward winning games go, it's one of the best.
2 Strength down the middle. Bounty of top-shelf personnel is most evident at center, where coach Dan Bylsma can deploy lines anchored by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Having three units that not only can score, but also can take over games, creates matchup nightmares for opposing coaches.
3 Mental toughness. There's lot of that all over hockey, but few teams have experienced -- and come through -- as much adversity as the Penguins have the past two seasons. They have found ways to win consistently with an injury-diluted lineup, and now benefit from the confidence born of succeeding without key players.
• Why The Penguins WON'T Win The Stanley Cup
1 Injuries. Imposing as the lineup can be when it's intact, that hasn't been the case very often the past two seasons. Having great players doesn't matter when those guys are in street clothes. And if the Penguins manage to make it through the first round, chances are good they'll probably be more bruised and battered than whoever they'd face next.
2 Poor attention to detail. When the Penguins commit to their defensive responsibilities and execute them efficiently, they can make life miserable for opponents. But when they don't, as happened often late in the regular season, they mostly make life miserable for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Might be a good idea to try to limit those two-on-zero breaks they have given up a few times recently.
3 Overachieving goalies. The Penguins ran into one of those, Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson, last spring and were frustrated by Montreal's Jaroslav Halak a year earlier. Can't win if you don't score occasionally.
First Published April 11, 2012 10:45 PM