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KELLEY: Compare and contrast the finalists

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Inside the Stanley Cup finals

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The Red Wings have been built for the expressed purpose of lofting Lord Stanley's Cup overhead. Will they prevail, or will the Carolina Hurricanes step forward and surprise everyone? FOXSports.com's Jim Kelley takes you inside the series, with looks at every matchup. Then, scroll down for your chance to vote for the best players in the history of these franchises.
Stanley Cup final matchup
Red Wings Hurricanes
Forwards: Hot Wings to go
Hey, the Red Wings have them. First there's the Hall of Fame Collection — Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Luc Robitaille. Then there are the worker bees and the depth guys. Carolina has forwards too, maybe even a couple you heard of, like Ron Francis. But the depth resides in Detroit.
Defense: Canes are able
The Red Wings have a solid, veteran defense, led by a pair of Norris Trophy finalists in Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios. That says plenty in and of itself. Prior to the start of these playoffs, the majority of hockey fans outside of North Carolina probably couldn't name a 'Canes defenseman other than veteran Glenn Wesley. That's changed now. A "no-name" group with the likes of Bret Hedican has emerged into a core that carries the team. It's the one area on the ice where the 'Canes won't be outmatched.
Goalies: A European flavor
The Red Wings put forth Dominik Hasek, six times a Vezina Trophy winner as the league's best goalie and twice the Hart Trophy winner as the league's Most Valuable Player. The 'Canes answer with Arturs Irbe. The interesting thing here is that for the first time in NHL history a team will win the Stanley Cup with a European-trained player in net.
Coaching: Beam them up, Scotty
Detroit's Scott Bowman is the best behind-the-bench coach in the game, ever, and when all else is even, that's what usually separates the winners from the losers. Look, Carolina's Paul Maurice is a pretty good coach who's managed to structure a team and a system that, when it plays within itself and gets good to great goaltending, can be effective.
Special Teams: To Hull and back
Detroit lost several of its games in the playoffs because of poor penalty killing and the stats reflect that. That said, the edge remains with the Wings because they have better offense from the blue line and they lead all playoff teams with six short-handed goals. Brett Hull leads a potent power play. Carolina's power play is woefully weak (17.7 percent) overall and, oddly enough, better on the road (second at 25.8) than it is at home (11th among all playoff teams at 12.5). Sean Hill has scored well from the point.
Unsung Heroes: Remember these names
Tomas Holmstrom is tied for second on the team in power-play goals with three, one behind team leader Steve Yzerman and has the best shooting percentage (26.9) of any player on the team. Carolina counters with Josef Vasicek who hits, hustles keeps himself out of the penalty box.
Home Ice: Hockeytown vs. ACC Country
In Detroit, it's the Joe — Joe Louis Arena — one of the most intimidating places to play in all of hockey. In Carolina the EAS is a place where they do other things besides college basketball. It's home to N.C. State hoops, and Arena football's Carolina Cobras.
Best Player Ever: Howe's everything?
There's no denying the Red Wings' best player ever was Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, but Steve Yzerman runs a close second.
The Hurricanes' best player ever is still playing. Former Hartford Whalers center Ron Francis.
Team's Darkest Hour
Detroit's worst period was that during the previous ownership that let a once-proud franchise slip to a level of laughing stock. In Hartford, they hung owner Peter Karmanos in effigy when he moved the team first to Greensboro and then Raleigh.

Tagged: Red Wings, Hurricanes, Blues, Panthers, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Tomas Holmstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, Josef Vasicek, Brett Hull, Sean Hill, Bret Hedican

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