Richard Pollock: The most surprising aspect of the Stanley Cup Finals to me so far has to be the poor play of Sidney Crosby. This is arguably the best player in the National Hockey League, yet he has only recorded 1 goal and 2 assists in 5 games versus Detroit. That is a points-per-game of 0.60. As opposed to his points-per-game average in the first three rounds of 1.64. As you can tell, Crosby's points-per-game this series have been down over 1 point-per-game compared to his average against the Flyers, Capitals and Hurricanes.
I realize Crosby is facing Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom at almost every opportunity but the best players always play against the opposing team's best players in the games that matter most. I'm sure Crosby would tell you himself that this matchup has come as no surprise to him.
What surprises me is that the Wings had a similar effect on Crosby last year in the Finals (6 points in 6 games) and that he hasn't adjusted to become more productive or even as productive this season. As well, I expected more from Crosby on the power play (he has yet to record a power play goal), where he is given more freedom and space and is not blanketed by the aforementioned All-Stars.
While Crosby's lack of production has surprised me, it would not surprise me to see Crosby come out and dominate Games 6 and 7 and lead the Penguins to the Cup.
Timo Seppa: The biggest surprise of the Stanley Cup finals has been the disappointing performance of Sidney Crosby, who seemed poised to lead Penguins to victory while picking up his first Conn Smythe trophy. While no one expected a 1.65 points per game postseason tear to continue, especially against the elite opposition of the Red Wings, Crosby’s across the board production nosedive was certainly unexpected:
G/GP A/GP P/GP +/- SOG S% TOI F%
Regular season 0.43 0.91 1.34 +0.0 3.1 13.9% 21.93 51.3%
Playoffs - total 0.68 0.73 1.41 +0.5 3.5 19.5% 21.44 53.4%
.vs PHI/WAS/CAR 0.82 0.82 1.65 +0.7 3.7 22.2% 21.70 54.0%
.vs DET 0.20 0.40 0.60 -0.4 2.8 7.1% 20.52 50.6%
In particular, his goals per game has dropped from a whopping 0.82 G/GP against Philadelphia, Washington and Carolina to an anemic 0.20 G/GP against Detroit, well below his 0.43 G/GP regular season rate. In goals per game, points per game and shooting percentage, the Red Wings have turned Sid the Kid into Bill Guerin or Tyler Kennedy – Not exactly the blueprint for beating the Motor City Machine.
All that said, the trophies are still there for the taking; it’s not an impossible task for what we assume will be two Hall Of Famers, c. 2035. We could be on the cusp of the signature moment of Crosby’s young career if he can recapture some of magic that he displayed in rounds 1-3, but if things remain status quo for the young Penguins’ captain, it will fall upon Evgeni Malkin just to drag Pittsburgh to a Game 7.
Tom Awad: The biggest surprise of the finals, for me, has been the play of the Red Wings' depth players. The Wings' four best players, on paper, are Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Hossa and Zetterberg. Lidstrom has been only average, Datsyuk only played one game (but what a game!), and Hossa has 3 assists in 5 games. The Wings have compensated with strong games by Justin Abdelkader, Brad Stuart, and Jonathan Ericsson.
Of the Wings' big names, only Zetterberg, Osgood and Rafalski have played to the top of their game. Zetterberg and Osgood deserve much of the credit for the 3-2 lead the Wings are sitting on.
Robert Vollman: The Stanley Cup Finals unfolded largely as one would have expected, or at least within the bounds of the most probable possible developments. To me, the two biggest surprises in the Finals were already foreshadowed in the earlier rounds. First there's Chris Osgood, perhaps the worst starting goaltender in the regular season, is having a potentially Conn Smythe-winning performance: 2.00 Goals Against Average, 0.927 Save Percentage, 2 Shut-outs, and with 2 assists, he has even outscored two of the players I selected in my playoff draft this year (Jeff Carter and Kimmo Timonen). Also worthy of mention is Dan Cleary, coming off last season's performance of only 3 points in 22 playoff games, has bagged 9 goals and 6 assists!
Andrew Rothstein: Center Johan Franzen has really taken me by surprise in not just the Stanley Cup Finals, but the postseason's entirety. He's averaging 1.14 points per game, with 12 Goals and 11 assists in 21 games played so far. This is far better than his 0.83 point per game total in the regular season and while a good player, Franzen wasn't even among the top five leaders in GVT on the Detroit Red Wings for the regular season. Then again, Detroit had one of the best GVT totals cumulatively throughout the NHL.
This article was authored by the staff of Puck Prospectus. You can contact the Puck Prospectus team by clicking here or click here to see the Puck Prospectus team's other articles.