The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings face off in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final. The questions you didn't ask, but I answered, are:
HOW DID PREVIOUS REMATCHES TURN OUT?
The 2009 Cup Final marks the 13th rematch (consecutive seasons only) in NHL history. In the previous 12, the teams split 5 times, one team took both series 7 times:
-Splits: 1921-22 Ottawa/Toronto; 1923-24 Ottawa/Montreal; 1932-33 Toronto/New York; 1955-56 Montreal/Detroit; 1983-84 New York Islanders/Edmonton.
-Sweeps: 1948-49 Toronto over Detroit; 1954-55 Detroit over Montreal; 1957-58 Montreal over Boston; 1959-60 Montreal over Toronto; 1963-64 Toronto over Detroit; 1968-69 Montreal over St. Louis; 1977-78 Montreal over Boston.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: Detroit.
FOR DETROIT: HOW DO DEFENDING CHAMPIONS FARE WHEN MAKING THE CUP FINALS THE NEXT SEASON?
Very well, naturally. The 2009 Wings are the 39th Cup winner to return to the Finals - the previous 38 are 25-13 (.658%). These teams are defending champions with good reason.
FOR PITTSBURGH: HOW MANY TEAMS HAVE LOST THE STANLEY CUP FINALS ONE SEASON AND WON IT THE NEXT?
Twelve officially, with one huge asterisk: this happened much more often in the league's early years. Fewer teams = more opportunities to win. Here's the complete list:
1919 Montreal Canadiens
1922 Toronto St. Patricks
1923 Ottawa Senators
1924 Montreal Canadiens
1927 Ottawa Senators
1933 New York Rangers
1943 Detroit Red Wings
1950 Detroit Red Wings
1953 Montreal Canadiens
1956 Montreal Canadiens
1968 Montreal Canadiens
1984 Edmonton Oilers
That's a grim trend if you're a Pens fan. In the Expansion Era (1968 on), only two teams have lost the Cup Final one year and won the next, and the last time it happened Chris Chelios was a rookie (no, really).
GOOD FEELING GONE: Pittsburgh.
The data isn't quite conclusive but the Pens have a bit of history working against them. Of course, I'm rooting for them, especially since this Thrasher fan would love to see Marian Hossa's "can't-beat-'em-join-'em" bandwagoning backfire so hilariously. And with apologies to the economically depressed and Lions-saddled people of Detroit, few things would make me happier than seeing legions of insufferable, trash-talking Wings fans STFU for a change.