Unpredictable as this pairing was, it should make for a tense, thrilling series characterized by some noteworthy parallels. Both teams floundered in the early going, only to turn their seasons around with a coaching change. Both teams boast an under-appreciated but battle-tested defense corps. And both teams enter the series with a confidence in their systems that borders on religious fervor.
Despite those similarities, this still looks like Pittsburgh's series to lose, doesn't it? There's a lean, hunger driving the play of
Of course, the Canes have a few cards to play, too. Their penalty kill limited the Bruins to just two power-play goals in their series and blanked them on four critical chances in Game 7. In 2006 Conn Smythe-winner (and 2009 candidate)
And while Carolina's offense can't quite match the wattage of Pittsburgh's, it just keeps coming.
And then there's this final point to ponder: The core of this Carolina team already has won a Cup. The Pens haven't. If it comes down to a battle of wills, that may give the decisive edge to the 'Canes.