Mike "Doc" Emrick has seen his fair share of action in these 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But with only two teams remaining and two days before the start of the finals, Emrick confessed he has no idea who is going to win the series. It's that close of a call for the veteran broadcaster who will be behind the mic for NBC and Versus, delivering all the play-by-play.
"I really can't tell you who will win," he told NHL.com, sounding like he can't wait for Game 1 to begin and find out how the series will unfold.
NBC will broadcast Games 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 and Versus carries Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, which begins Saturday in Detroit at 8 p.m. ET. Emrick will be joined by Ed Olczyk in the booth and analysts Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury. The coverage on Versus will also include pre- and post-game shows.
Emrick called the two regular-season matchups between Detroit and Pittsburgh and took away a lot of insight from those two contests.
"There were a lot of circumstances that made it an interesting series," he said. "Both were statement games won by each team. Pittsburgh had not been in Detroit since Petr Sykora's triple overtime goal (Game 5 of 2008 Final). Detroit had them 5-2 in the third period and then Jordan Staal took over the game and the whole team rallied off what he did. It was a monumental win for Pittsburgh because it was in Detroit, both teams had a short summer…It looked like the Cup champs had them, they were in pretty good shape, then Staal took over all by himself.
"The game in February was a statement game by Detroit. Ty Conklin
was in goal against his old team. Detroit's attitude was, 'You embarrassed us back in November and this is how we do it,' and they shut them down.
"Several times this season Detroit has made a statement like that. 'This is the Detroit Red Wings and in case your curious, this is how we do it in our town.' There was a statement game against San Jose, and another against Dallas. Both times, the teams were coming in hot and Detroit made them look ordinary. When they're playing their best they make you look ordinary. That's how they do things. Look at the last game. Game 5 was marvelous, more of a Detroit kind of game than a Chicago kind of game, it was low scoring, and Detroit took it to them."
Most pundits believe the 2009 finals will be an even better series than last season because the Penguins have learned so much since then. Besides experience, there's a new coach and new players (with Cup rings), and Pittsburgh has one more day of rest and several less banged-up bodies than the Red Wings.
Games 1 and 2 will be played on back-to-back nights, a scenario that has occured only once previously this postseason.
"I think the players prefer it that way. It's better than drawn out situations," McGuire said. "They will have to reel in their emotions fast, and there's not a lot of time to rehash mistakes."
"I'm looking at Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday," said Olczyk, factoring in Game 3. "That's three games in four days. I'm looking for fatigue and tired legs, especially if one of the first two becomes a long, marathon game."
"I believe it favors the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have had more time off and are less banged up," Milbury said.
Though the regular season series can offer some clues, Emrick points out that the last matchup happened almost four months ago, and since then the Penguins have picked up a new coach -- Dan Bylsma -- and several new players -- Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz and Craig Adams. Those three have won Stanley Cups elsewhere.
"I'd like to just pick something out of the rain and say it, but both teams can have their way in this series," Emrick said while angling for a prediction. "I have no idea if it'll be low-scoring or not. It's almost four months since they last played, and Pittsburgh had had monumental changes in that time. Detroit has had monumental changes for the worst in terms of being healthy. Four of the players in the lineup (in Game 5 against Chicago) were in Grand Rapids not long ago, so it's a marvelous statement for their depth."
"We're all excited to see what they can do in the second go-round," Milbury added. "Pittsburgh continues to grow up. Detroit has depth. It should be fun and the goalies will play a huge part. (Marc-Andre) Fleury looks comfortable and so does (Chris) Osgood."
"The theater will not intimidate Pittsburgh as it did last year when they looked scared and were shut out in Games 1 and 2," McGuire said. "This will be Chris Osgood's I-told-you-so-moment. In Game 5 versus Chicago he was stellar. I think we're going to see unbelievable performances."Contact Rocky Bonanno at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Rocky Bonanno | NHL.com Staff Writer