2017 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

 

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It took a team winning away from home to finish off the 2016-17 season in the NHL and things are looking very familiar.

That is because the same team is sitting on top of the league for the second straight year becoming the first team in almost 20 years to win two straight titles.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are sitting on top of the league once again as the best team in the NHL for the second year in a row.

It will be interesting how this series will be seen in the near future though as there are some two very big storylines.

On one hand, this is the most dominant team in the NHL in close to two decades as the Penguins are the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

They were the last team to win two straight Stanley Cups and the Penguins are now joining that group.

It officially enters them into the debate of one of the most dominant teams in the history of the league.

In an era where parity rules in the NHL it has become one of the toughest things to win two straight titles.

The Chicago Blackhawks were the closest winning three Cups in six years as their time at the top was extended through the majority of the 2010s.

Not even that team could find it in them to win two straight years as things change and championship teams have a tough time trying to find their way back the next year.

Most of the time the issue has been that these teams lose key players in the salary cap era preventing them from finding their way back.

That added to the fact that championship teams also have the shortest off-season and their off-season is full of appearances and celebrations makes it tough for teams to get back their competitive edge in the new season.

The Penguins figured out a way to do just that as they may not have been the most dominant team in the regular season but they were certainly one of the best.

They continued their strong play throughout the season always looking like a threat and in the playoffs were the team to beat in the East.

They got to the Stanley Cup and were able to take on another strong team in Nashville to beat them in six games.

It was a great performance the entire season and Penguins were one of the top teams throughout the season leaving little doubt that they were the top team in the league.

There is another way to look at the series though as some will see it as a failure by the Predators to win the title.

Nashville had put together a great season and surprised everyone by making their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

They only made it into the postseason in the wild card and worked their way through some very tough teams in the Western conference to get to the Stanley Cup finals.

They did this with an amazing defence and a goaltender that was headed towards the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Then the first two games showed that the Predators might not be ready for the Stanley Cup Finals.

Their defence looked great limited the best offence in the playoffs to an amazingly low amount of shots but Pekka Rinne couldn’t do anything to stop them.

Nashville looked like they could compete as Rinne rebounded and the Predators evened the series.

When the Predators went back to Pittsburgh they once again looked like a different team dropping Game 5, 6-0 and seeing Rinne pulled early.

Game 6 was a close one but the Penguins got through while the offence of the Predators simply couldn’t match-up.

The Predators showed in Game 3 and 4 that they had the ability to compete with the Penguins and that they could win this series.

Then they went away from home and looked entirely different blowing their chance at their first ever Stanley Cup.

Some will see it this way as the Penguins were not entirely the best team in every game during the final series.

Game 1 and 2 were perfect evidence as they were held without a shot for long periods of time as their offence was shut down.

If it wasn’t for the poor performance of Rinne they might not have won either of those games changing the series altogether.

Then again Pittsburgh did find a way through and their Game 5 win was an impressive one that made it seem like they were on an entirely different level.

The Penguins will go down as a dominant team but there is something to be said for the fact that the Preds did blow this series, especially during the first two games.

There are two main storylines from this series and like most things it is a mesh of the two that will be the story of the 2017 Stanley Cup.

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