The 2009 Stanley Cup finals series is a rematch, but it won’t necessarily be a repeat, Barry Trotz says.
That does not mean that the Nashville Predators’ coach is predicting a Pittsburgh victory over Detroit. Instead, he’s expecting a match-up that will be well worth watching when it begins Saturday.
“It’s probably setting up to be more of a classic battle between the two best teams than it was last year,” Trotz said. “I know Pittsburgh won a couple of games last year, but it really was a pretty one-sided series.”
The Red Wings advanced Wednesday when they closed out the Western Conference finals against Chicago with a 2-1, overtime victory in Game Five. The Penguins wrapped up their second straight Eastern Conference title a night earlier when they competed a sweep of Carolina.
Detroit claimed the Cup last year in six games and outscored Pittsburgh 17-10 for the series, including 7-0 in the first two games.
The last time the same two NHL teams met for the championship in consecutive years was 1983-84 when the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers did. New York won the first series; Edmonton the next.
According to Trotz, the familiarity helps Pittsburgh’s chances.
“Nothing fazes Detroit,” he said. “Playing against Detroit is a totally unique experience. Pittsburgh got a glimpse of that in the series last year and will be much more prepared this time around.”
The teams met twice during the 2008-09 regular season and split a pair of decidedly different contests. Pittsburgh won 7-6 in overtime on Nov. 11, and Detroit won 3-0 on Feb. 8. Both victories went to the road team.
“To me, Pittsburgh is playing more of a team-based game right now,” Trotz said. “Last year, I think they relied a lot more on individual effort.”
Detroit is the last team to win in back-to-back years. It did so in 1997 and 98. Before that, it was Pittsburgh in 1991 and 92.