PITTSBURGH — With the minutes counting down before the puck is dropped Monday night at PPG Paints Arena to kick off the 2017 Stanley Cup Remaining, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators ongoing to measurement up a single a further. Just 4 wins limited of hoisting the most cherished trophy in hockey, just about every staff ongoing to gauge where they matched up very best in the last sequence of the 2016-17 NHL time.

On paper at the very least, there was a single place the defending winner Penguins appeared to have an indeniable benefit: playoff expertise.

“Anytime you gained it before there are some superior reminiscences you can assume again on,” reported Pittsburgh winger Carl Hagelin, who is showing in his 3rd Remaining in the past 4 seasons. “At the same time, you are unable to assume just for the reason that they have not gained it before that they’re not likely to be prepared.”

Not only is this year’s Pittsburgh roster pretty much equivalent to the team that gained the franchise’s fourth championship very last yr, but the Predators conversely as a franchise are still playoff neophytes for the most element getting into the very best-of-7 sequence. Showing in the Stanley Cup Remaining for the first time in franchise historical past, Nashville does have captain Mike Fisher, who has played in 128 postseason online games. But Fisher has been hampered by accidents and has no points in 14 online games in these playoffs.

How great is the discrepancy in significant-recreation expertise concerning these golf equipment? Pittsburgh’s superstar duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have played in 142 and 143 playoff online games, respectively. That is far more than the Predators franchise, which in its youthful historical past has 86 postseason contests. The star combination of Crosby, Malkin and Phil Kessel enter the Remaining with a combined 141 playoff ambitions. Those people three players are in just striking length of the Predators franchise, which in its historical past has 214 postseason ambitions.

Each individual indicator is that this grand variation in playoff reps could swing the sequence in Pittsburgh’s favor. But the defending champions are obtaining none of it.

“It really is a new sequence. They are hungry and they want to get,” reported Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley. “I never assume there is also a great deal of an benefit for just about every staff.”

No matter if it was sheer honesty or uncomplicated gamesmanship, the Penguins refused to position to their overwhelming playoff expertise as a determining variable in this sequence. But despite the Penguins’ typical unwillingness to tout their significant-recreation chops, there was at the very least a single veteran who did position to it as a definite benefit from Nashville.

“I believe that that expertise can endure you properly in the playoffs and in significant times. For our staff it has,” reported Penguins ahead Matt Cullen. “There’s a good deal of feelings in the playoffs, you can find a good deal of ups and downs. It will get even far more amplified in the Remaining. I assume obtaining expertise in your team can serve you properly.”

The oldest player in the sequence at age forty, Cullen speaks from, properly, expertise. The veteran heart is on the verge of hoisting the Stanley Cup for the 3rd time in an NHL career that started out pretty much two many years ago.

Regardless of his 117 postseason online games with 7 unique teams, Cullen still acknowledged that expertise alone would not hand Pittsburgh its second straight title.

“It really is a very unbelievable experience to be in this article, but we’re intelligent adequate to know that you can find pretty a good deal of do the job to be completed,” reported Cullen. “I have been impressed with the starvation level and willpower level of this team.”

As defending champions, the Penguins have survived grueling 7-recreation sequence from the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals and have learned firsthand how heavy the head that wears the crown can really be. When it comes to dismissing this seemingly chasm-like variation concerning these two teams, Nashville and Pittsburgh surface to have uncovered some typical ground.

“I would not say they have any benefit. Each individual yr is a new yr. Naturally they gained the Cup very last yr, but at the same time you hardly ever know when you can get this possibility once again,” reported Predators ahead Filip Forsberg. “They of course have been fortuitous adequate to get a pair, but this could be the very last possibility. This could be the only possibility you get. More than in this article we’re likely to make the most of it.”

The cheapest seed in the playoffs following a 94-position standard time, the Predators have shown their mettle this postseason despite starting up each individual sequence on the street. They swept the prime-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the first round before handling the Anaheim Ducks, who finished atop the Pacific Division with a hundred and five points, in six online games to advance to the Cup Remaining. When star heart Ryan Johansen was sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs with a hip harm, an harm magnified by Fisher’s personal nagging ailment, the Predators gained two straight from Anaheim to shift on.

Whilst everyone was watching the Penguins above the past couple seasons, the Predators inconspicuously produced into a clutch postseason performer.

“I have been in this article three many years. In the first yr, we shed to Chicago in six. Then playing from Anaheim in a hard sequence likely 7 and likely from San Jose, who in the end went to the Stanley Cup Finals, and shed to them in 7,” reported Predators wing and previous Penguin James Neal. “It felt like we had been proper there. We learned a good deal and matured a good deal in those people sequence.”

By the time the puck drops at PPG Paints Arena on Monday, all the statistics and all the prognostication will be meaningless. From that position on all that will issue is which staff wins 4 online games. By the time a single staff hoists the Cup when the other shuffles off into the postseaon to mull how oh so shut they arrived, all that will issue is which staff played far better, not which staff appreciated far more playoff expertise.

“They of course have far more expertise than we do. They’ve been to the Remaining before and gained it before,” reported Predators defenseman Roman Josi. “I never know if that is an benefit. All I know is we’re likely to be prepared to participate in.”



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