SINCE YOU MIGHT have been flipping between the Phillies and the (shockingly) thrilling NBA playoffs in recent weeks, here are 10 things you need to know about the Stanley Cup finals, which begin tomorrow night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit:
1 This is the first time since 1984 that a Stanley Cup finals is a rematch from the previous year. Detroit defeated Pittsburgh in six games in 2008. The New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers were the last teams to meet in back-to-back years. In '83, the Islanders won the last of their four consecutive Cups; in '84, the Oilers won their first of five Cups.
2This is for the Penguins' deadly duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Both have netted an impressive 28 points apiece, tying for the playoff lead. That averages to a combined 3.3 points per game from the two superstars.
3Since the expansion era in 1967-68, only two teams - St. Louis (1968, '69, '70) and Boston (1977, '78) - have gone to the finals at least twice in a row and lost.
4Detroit has won four Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) in the last 12 seasons. That run has only been matched by Edmonton, the Islanders, Montreal and Toronto. The Wings have won nine Stanley Cups in all. Pittsburgh has not won since 1992, when it won back-to-back Cups with Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis.
5Henrik Zetterberg led the NHL in playoff scoring last season. This year, Zetterberg (18 points) and Johan Franzen (19) lead the Wings but both trail Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (21) - who was eliminated two rounds earlier.
6Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is not in the top five in playoff save percentage or goals-against average but leads the league where it matters most: wins (12). Of course, Detroit's Chris Osgood also has 12 wins.
7A little Cup lore: There have been numerous spelling mistakes - too many to count - engraved on the Stanley Cup, which was bought for $50 in 1892 by Canada's Lord Stanley of Preston. Teams are allowed 52 names per year and every 13 years a band of names is removed from the Cup and placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
8Crosby bucked the trend on Wednesday by grabbing the Prince of Wales Trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference champions. It is considered taboo in the hockey world to touch the trophy when there is a bigger trophy to win. Crosby avoided the trophy last year but picked it up to pose for photographers on Wednesday. For the record, the Wings' Henrik Zetterberg avoided touching the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after disposing of Chicago.
9The finals were originally slated to start on June 6. Since both Detroit and Pittsburgh won their series early, the league negotiated a new TV schedule with NBC and Versus to avoid a painful, 9-day layoff.
10 Detroit is hoping that captain Nicklas Lidstrom (undisclosed lower-body injury) will be healthy for Game 1. Sniper Pavel Datsyuk also could be primed for a return. Lidstrom, a four-time Cup winner, has played in more playoff games than any Red Wing (228). Veteran Chris Chelios filled in for Lidstrom in Games 4 and 5 in the Western Conference finals. *