Why you should watch the Stanley Cup finals   

Updated: May 23, 2008, 12:31 PM ET

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Click here for complete coverage of the Penguins-Red Wings series matchup from ESPN.com.

1. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin: The most exciting tandem since Gretzky and Messier, these franchise cornerstones are a combined 41 years old, which is still five years younger than …

2. Chris Chelios: A first-ballot lock for the Badass Hall of Fame, he's one of the fittest athletes you'll see in any sport. He might be the only one to have actually threatened his commissioner with physical violence.

3. Not one word about Spygate.

4. Not one word about Roger Clemens.

Chris Chelios

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Chris Chelios missed Game 6 against Dallas with a leg injury, but we expect to hear from him in the finals.

5. The opportunity to relive the joy of rooting against a seemingly indestructible foe dressed in red. (The fate of the entire world is in your young, delicate hands, Mr. Crosby!)

6. The opportunity to get in early on the big new thing: NHL hockey … the iPhone of sports!

7. Georges Laraque.

8. To soak in some of the history in two of the NHL's oldest arenas: Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena, the league's oldest (opened in 1967), and Detroit's Joe Louis Arena (1979). And the best seats to soak in that history? The obstructed-view ones behind massive columns, so you're not distracted by the action on the ice.

Mellon Arena

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Two Stanley Cup championship banners already hang at the Igloo. Are the Pens about to make it three?

9. The subtle artistry of a tape-to-tape pass. The effortless logistics of a line change. A deke. A spin. The sound of steel carving ice. And more video of Laraque beating the @#%^ out of people.

10. Brian Engblom's hair.

11. Because the Penguins and Red Wings haven't played each other since Oct. 7, 2006. Malkin hadn't even made his NHL debut yet. So no one knows what to expect in this series. The teams will be feeling each other out on the fly like a couple of preteens at their first middle school dance. And before long, they should be going at each other hardcore.

12. Unlike in the NBA Finals, the last minute of a Stanley Cup finals game doesn't take 45 minutes …

13. … and the road team occasionally wins.

14. After watching a game or two, names such as Valtteri Filppula and Pascal Dupuis will fill your speech. And the ladies will swoon over your foreign tongue. Before long, your town's version of Elisha Cuthbert will be yours forever. And it will be all thanks to the Stanley Cup finals. (Oh, sorry … we momentarily forgot the point of all of this: the mandatory Elisha Cuthbert photo.)

Evgeni Malkin

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Evgeni Malkin is one of the reasons this could be the best offensive Stanley Cup finals in a long, long time.

15. Both rosters are stocked with talented offensive players, so it could be a high-scoring series. Maybe an average of five goals a game between the two teams? Six? Seven? That would be more goals than NFL games have touchdowns.

16. The practice of "pulling the goalie." It's something done by the losing team in the waning seconds of a game that always increases the excitement. The term also happens to be a great euphemism.

17. HDTV. HD technology has improved the viewing experience of hockey more than in any other sport except perhaps women's beach volleyball.

18. With the price of gas hovering around $4 per gallon, who can afford to go anywhere?

19. Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk is the back-to-back winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, presented each year to the player who best exhibits gentlemanly play. So there's that. You know, if you're into that kind of thing.

20. Anna Kournikova sightings are always a possibility.

21. You won't have to watch Manu Ginobili and the Spurs do this over and over again

22. … because the NHL penalizes floppers!

23. You might see Crosby do this or this or maybe this.

24. Because Detroit is playing and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is intense in a cool "Don't mess with me or I'll track you down in dark alley" kind of way, as opposed to intense in an "I need a cigarette, my team is stinking it up and I'm batting Pudge Rodriguez leadoff" kind of way.


AP Photo/Pizza Hut-HO

Mmmm … pizza.

25. Labatt's and pizza.

26. Because you won't have to put with up with this or this or this or this or this.

27. You might see an octopus thrown on the ice, and if you have ichthyophobia, you'll probably feel empowered.

28. To see Al Sobotka twirl said octopus overhead … now that the NHL has finally relented on its bogus threat to fine the Joe Louis Arena superintendent $10,000 if he did so.

29. The best officiating in sports.

30. You'll finally find a home for your mullet, your denim jacket and your acid-washed jeans. Welcome home, friends.

31. Bone-jarring hits from Niklas Kronwall.

32. Everything is better on the rocks.

Red Wings jersey

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

It's playoff hockey! Need we say more?

33. Because it's playoff hockey, and if you say you don't like playoff hockey, you're a liar.

34. Everyone loves a battle between good versus evil (feel free to determine who is evil).

35. It's the only new show on anyway.

36. Molson and pizza.

37. The Staal brothers are throwing a party, and you're invited.

38. Because Kyle Farnsworth is now your eighth-inning stopper.

39. To see whether the 2008 Chris Osgood can keep playing like the 1998 Chris Osgood.

40. Glowing red lights and blaring horns!

41. Because Lady Byng and the Neutral Zone Trap aren't hair-metal bands.

42. Nicklas Lidstrom is the best all-around defenseman since Bobby Orr … and he might even score from 90 feet away.

43. Moosehead and pizza.

44. Because it's not just a cliché -- every shift really does matter.

Kieran Darcy, DJ Gallo, Thomas Neumann, Mike Philbrick and David Schoenfield have been sent to their rooms without dinner as punishment for this article.


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