Published: Mon, May 29, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Mike Fisher: Mike Fisher should be able to play in Game 1

Trevor Daley remembers the 2016 Stanley Cup Final media day as a pity party, and not one he welcomed.

Forward Cory Stillman was signed to a three-year deal and instantly became a key part of the Canes offense.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of history.

"They're both special", Penguins winger Phil Kessel said.

"When I got traded, I said it". However, once the Caps were eliminated, I did figure it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Nashville Predators were a wild card seed in the west pinned up against the top seed in the west Chicago Blackhawks.

In the 16 games he has suited up for in these 2017 playoffs, Mike Fisher has as many points as you and I - zero. Let's look at why. They lead all playoff teams with 14 powerplay goals and are carrying a 25.0% conversion rate on the powerplay into the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only do they have two of the top players in the NHL - Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin - but they know how to win at the top levels.

The Penguins have needed every last ounce of it as they have from the rest of their defensemen who has spent the last four months trying to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Letang.

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But if not Crosby, Evgeni Malkin has been actually better than Crosby in the playoffs. He has given up one or no goals in eight of Nashville's 16 playoff games.

Rookie netminder Cam Ward replaced the Hurricanes No. 1 goalie Martin Gerber, who backstopped Carolina to a franchise record 112 points in the regular season, in Game 2 against Montreal with the team down 3-0. Matt Murray, who backstopped Pittsburgh to a championship a year ago following a late-season injury to Marc-Andre Fleury, reclaimed the starting job from Fleury in the Ottawa series and went 3-1 with six goals allowed in his four starts. Kevin Fiala, Ryan Johansen, those are guys we'd like to have in the lineup but they're not available. I'm not predicting another sweep, but the Predators are more than their playoff resume might suggest. What's more, their captain and leading center, Mike Fisher, has been out for the entire playoffs. It would put him among the elite players to ever play the game. "They obviously have been fortunate enough to win a couple, but this could be the last chance". The top line of Forsberg-Johansen-Arvidsson was one of the NHL's best this year. The Predators have defenseman P.K. Subban, a bunch of country music A-listers in the stands and absolutely nothing to lose in their first appearance on hockey's biggest stage. Together they've scored 32 percent of Nashville's playoff points - 39 points (11 goals, 28 assists) total. Regression is certainly possible, or Pekka Rinne could keep standing on his head.

"I think we kind of surprised a lot of people", Sheary said of last season. "We knew we had to win some road games". His save percentage is insane -.941.

Sergei Bobrovsky and Pekka Rinne are two of the best goaltenders in the league. "Then playing against Anaheim in a tough series going seven and going against San Jose, who ultimately went to the Stanley Cup Finals, and lost to them in seven", said Predators wing and former Penguin James Neal.

I used to be a Penguins fan, back in the early 1990s before Colorado had a team. If the Predators maintain their statistical dominance and win the Stanley Cup, it will finally be proven once and for all that advanced statistics are the numbers that differentiate good hockey teams for great ones. I still have my Jaromir Jagr Pens jersey - with the 1990s logo.

Still, when all is said and done, this clash of centres would appear to be, on the surface, a story of David vs. Goliath on blades, especially from a statistical point of view. He's so talented, yet he's such a whiny baby on the ice. I don't blame him. Bad habits are hard to change. Crosby would have turtled in that situation.

Anyway, the point is, if I wanted to watch diving and crying, I'd be a soccer fan. They've played more physical teams, from Columbus to Washington to Ottawa.

Plus, there's the other Irish boy connection (or he might be Scottish), Cody McLeod. Why shouldn't we wish our ex some success. Numerous commentators say he should be traded, though most doubt the Oilers can find a trading partner. Nashville has a history of finding defensive talent via entry drafts (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Seth Jones and Roman Josi, for example). Winning one Stanley Cup is unbelievable.

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