American TV executives must be tickled pink. It doesn’t matter who the Western Conference champion is, they got The Kid.
Sid the Kid.
Say what you want about the best two teams making the final each year; it means squat to American television and no matter what your sensibilities are concerning this issue, the NHL is still very much trying to sell itself as a major attraction in the USA.
Having Sidney Crosby in the final does that.
Tampa Bay makes the final? Yawn. Carolina? Ho-hum. Anaheim? Yikes!
This is no knock on those teams, all of which won the Stanley Cup. They earned it and they deserved it. But you don’t sell the game when Calgary meets Tampa Bay. Not outside of Calgary and Tampa Bay.
The Penguins waddled all over the Flyers in Game 5 Sunday. Philadelphia, for what it is worth, made a valiant effort to extend the series in Game 4 at home, but does anybody out there really expect a team to go from 30th overall one year to the Stanley Cup final the next?
Let us applaud the strides the Flyers made this season. They are the real deal and having watched GM Paul Holmgren build this team into a contender in such a short time, I have no doubt whatsoever Philly will be an impact team next season.
But back to the Pens.
So what can we expect in the final? I say it doesn’t matter which team they face, Dallas or Detroit, the Penguins have a legitimate shot to win it all. And here is why: Marc-Andre Fleury has proven himself through three rounds to be a money goaltender. It took the 23-year-old a few years to acclimatize himself to the NHL, but he has arrived.
And what a comforting feeling that must be to the Penguins whose bread and butter is its offense. The Pens know they can take chances at the other end and if they mess up, Fleury will save the day. That is what championship teams are built on.
This is going to be a great final!
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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