Mystique vs. mayhem in unlikely Stanley Cup Final

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"We know that Nashville has a much different identity than Ottawa", Sullivan said.

"To take those pieces out is hard - those are big pieces", Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. The Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins tangle in the final series to determine where the Stanley Cup resides for the next year.

For decades now, it's been the calling card for numerous most dominant teams: two all-world centers carrying their club. The Lightning won that one 2-1 for their first Stanley Cup crown.

"He had given me a couple teams that had called, so he scratched me and said to go home because something was on the table", Fiddler recalled. While the Predators have successfully built their team for playoff success in those three years, the Capitals have fallen short. The Predators' Peter Laviolette has taken his third team to the final (Carolina, Philadelphia).

"It's a good competition between me and Sid", the usually quiet Malkin said.

“You dont get many chances to win and when you find yourself in the play-offs you want to give it everything youve got to try and win a Stanley Cup.

Players, coaches and general managers from both clubs patiently, and at times light-heartedly, provided answers for the swarms of reporters and cameras.

When defenseman Kris Letang's star-crossed season ended for good in early April when he abandoned any hope of a comeback from the injuries that limited him to just 40 games this season, the chances of the Penguins becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles was supposed to vanish along with him. Twenty years later, Poile still has that post, and one of his most well-known moves was a 2013 trade-deadline deal with his former team. That would leave defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis in charge of guarding Crosby, who practiced Sunday on a line with forwards Chris Kunitz and Conor Sheary. If he scores one more, I want to score one more, too. He played in just 40 career AHL games, having spent two years collegiately at Boston University. "We found ways all season long and in the playoffs we've found ways". He was sidelined early in the postseason with a concussion but ranks second behind teammate Evgeni Malkin with 20 points in 18 games, assisting on the double-OT victor by Chris Kunitz on Thursday against the Senators. Philadelphia went back-to-back in 1974 and 1975; Bowman's Canadiens followed with four straight; the New York Islanders won the next four and then came Messier's Oilers winning two in a row, four of five and five of seven. The Stanley Cup finals get started tonight in Pittsburgh.

Nashville is in dire need of a healthy center after Ryan Johansen was lost for the remainder of the postseason with a hip injury.

Both teams feature plenty of yellow in their uniforms. "If someone says he's underrated they haven't been watching him for the past few years". On June 29, Nashville made a change to its core, trading away the team's captain, big, bruising defenseman Shea Weber, in return for a dynamic, puck-mover in P.K. Subban. "Obviously they won the Cup past year, but at the same time you never know when you'll get this chance again", said Predators forward Filip Forsberg.

Fisher has no points in 14 games, but is a leader in the room and a presence as a shutdown centre.

Blocked shots are part of that, as the Penguins average 18 a game.

Regardless of the outcome of the series, Nashville will make a donation to Operation Stand Down Tennessee, while Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh will make a donation to the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. Hornqvist suffered an upper-body injury during the Eastern Conference finals and hasn't played since Game 1 of that series. Although the Predators are in their first conference final, they come in with one of the deepest lineups, with C Ryan Johansen and RW Viktor Arvidsson among the risky players on a team that does offense by committee. "But for whatever reason, it didn't happen. We knew that coming in and we knew we were going to have to win some road games".

The Golden State Warriors are heavy favourites in the NBA Finals, and given their star power and track record this postseason, could finish off the Cavaliers in just four or five games.