The star centers and no-name defense of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The standout defensemen and unheralded centers of the Nashville Predators.
The Stanley Cup Final is full of intriguing matchups, with Game 1 coming up Monday night in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh goes for its second consecutive title, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Without top defenseman Kris Letang, the Penguins have to rely on their blue-line depth to help their talented forwards.
Nashville has arguably the best defense of any Cup finalist in recent history, led by P.K. Subban , Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Now without top center Ryan Johansen, the Predators hope captain Mike Fisher is back for Game 1 to give Colton Sissons a break.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette’s system counts on his defensemen to jump up in the play and contribute. The same is true for Mike Sullivan’s Penguins, though Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta and Co. all have to put it together to make up for not having Letang.
“Kris Letang played 28 minutes a game, plays in all situations,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “We’re fortunate that we have the right guys that…