May 20, 2008
Rumble of the Rust BeltMotown, Steeltown battle for Cup
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media
PITTSBURGH -- The Rumble of the Rust Belt is officially here.
For the first time since 2003, two U.S.-based teams will face off in the Stanley Cup final when the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Joe Louis Arena in Game 1 Saturday night.
Heading into the highly anticipated showdown between the Red Wings, the top-seeded team in the west, and the Penguins, the No. 2 team in the east, comparisons already are being made in Steeltown with the 1983 final between the veteran New York Islanders and Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers.
Like the Islanders of 25 years ago, the Red Wings are the proven commodity, having won three Cups in the past 11 years.
Like those '83 Oilers, the inexperienced but talented Penguins are led by a young superstar, in this case Sidney Crosby.
History shows that the Isles swept the Oilers for their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. Edmonton learned from the experience and would rebound to win the next two.
Will the battle-proven Wings, led by stud defenceman Nick Lidstrom, teach the Pens a similar lesson? Or will the youthful legs of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin help the Pittsburgh prevail?
Some facts and figures about the two franchises:
- The two teams have met 132 times during the regular season, with Detroit holding a 59-57-16 edge. They have never locked horns in the playoffs, however.
- The Wings and Pens have not played since Oct. 7, 2006, when the visitors shut out Pittsburgh 2-0 at Mellon Arena.
- Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman coached both teams, going 410-195-88-8 with the Red Wings and 95-53-16 with the Penguins. He led the Wings to three Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002); led the Pens to one (1992).