Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Osgood will lead Detroit to the Cup

Remember when Chris Osgood was an Islander? The Red Wings dumped him for Dominik Hasek, leaving him on the waiver wire when they couldn't trade him. The Islanders picked him up and in 2001-02 he started 65 games and won 32 with a 2.50 GPA and four shutouts. Not bad, but he didn't last.

His stats slipped in 2002-03 and Garth Snow ended up getting the bulk of the starts in net, with Rick DiPietro making his debut that season. Osgood was dealt for Justin Papineau and a second-round pick, neither of which panned out.

To be fair, Osgood's career didn't exactly skyrocket from there. He was injured on and off and even this year was seen to be the backup for Hasek, but Hasek inevitably got hurt and Osgood took his game up a notch and has had an outstanding season, particularly in the playoffs as the Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 23rd time in their history.

They'll play the Penguins, who knocked out the Flyers in five games. Pittsburgh is dangerous, particularly since acquiring Marian Hossa to join Evgeny Malkin and Sidney Crosby up front. But Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis have also played well, as has goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

But the Pens are still a step away from being champions, much like the Edmonton Oilers in 1983 when they were bounced by the more experienced Islanders. The Pens' youth hasn't hurt them thus far but the Red Wings are another animal. Henrik Zetterburg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holstrom, Niklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, not mention Osgood and Chris Chelios -- this team is stacked, with depth and experience the Pens cannot match. Detroit may still be without rising star Johan Franzen, but it won't matter.

Detroit wins the Cup in six games, but the Penguins -- like the Oilers did 25 years ago -- will remember what it took to get there and will likely be the team to beat next season. And they're in the Islanders division, of course!

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