You need to go all the way back to the 1997-98 season to find the last time that we had a repeat Stanley Cup champion. If you need any indication of just how difficult it is to win the Stanley Cup that may be the stat that proves it. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now in a position to win back to back championships, but are going to need to overcome a stubborn Nashville Predators team to make that dream a reality. The Penguins (-170) are the favorites to win this series, but they are going to need a lot of things to go right along the way. Let’s look at their keys to success, after which I will make an NHL betting prediction for the series.
A Closer Look At The Expert Predictions To Determine If Penguins Can Repeat As NHL Champs
Win the Goaltender Battle
Through the opening three rounds of the playoffs, it has been Pekka Rinne of the Predators who has earned the most likely to be MVP award. Not only do the Penguins need to be able to solve him in the Final, they also need some solid goaltending of their own, and Matt Murray has proven that he is up to the task. Marc Andre Fleury served well as the back-up while Murray recovered from injury, but the #1 is back, and he looks ready to go, positing a .950 save percentage in the games that he has played, including some heroics in 2OT in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Stars Need to Shine
This is a team that has been built to be an offensive threat, and they have lived up to the hype through the postseason. You have Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel sitting as the top 3 points getters in the playoffs, but it has to be said that Crosby has not really looked like his old self since missing a couple of games with a head injury sustained against the Capitals. He will have had some time off to shake off any injuries he may be carrying, and the Penguins know that they need him to be at his best of they are to repeat.
Win Game 1
While the ultimate goal for the Penguins is to win the series and the Stanley Cup, it is the small battles that lead to the main victory. Home ice advantage is huge for the team that had the best home record during the regular season, and they do not want to give that away at the first time of asking. The Predators have won all three of their opening games on the road during this postseason, and a win in Game 1 of the final would set up their blueprint to perfection. A win for the Penguins might just plant some seeds of doubt.
Stanley Cup Final Prediction
I picked the Penguins to win it all before the playoffs began, and I am not about to change that pick now. I like them to win the series in 6 games, although I would not be stunned if it went the distance.