As soon as Chris Kunitz fired a shot past a screened Craig Anderson in double overtime, the hockey media world began working up narratives for the Stanley Cup Finals. Immediately, headlines began popping up: can the Nashville Predators keep up with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ forwards? Depth Upon Depth Upon DepthLooking up and down the Penguins’ forwards, yes, it is a concern for the Predators. The Penguins boast far and away the most forward depth of any team the Predators have yet to play these playoffs. While the Blackhawks had both the Toews and Kane lines, Pittsburgh has three dangerous lines that can and will score goals.Line 1? Wilson-Malkin-KesselLine 2? Kunitz-Crosby-ShearyLine 3? Hagelin-Bonino-RowneyThe asterisk by Kessel is because he may even be bounced from the top line at the start of the playoffs, as former Predator Patric Hornqvist resumed practicing today for the Penguins. If he returns, the Penguins can reunite the now-famous BK” line of Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel that ran wild in last year cup run, although Bryan Rust also should be somewhere in that top nine. Patric Hornqvist 72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins checks Alex Burrows 14 of the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the PPG PAINTS Arena on May 13, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Nevertheless, they are also dealing with some injuries at forwards. Right wing Tom Kuhnhackl of Landshut is still nursing a lower body injury. He worked out before the optional on-ice practice for the Penguins Friday, but he is still likely a scratch for at least game one. Because of the injuries to Kuhnhackl and Hornqvist, along with those on defense, head coach Mike Sullivan opted to only ice eleven forwards and bring along a seventh defenseman a handful of times against the Ottawa Senators https://www.predatorsoutletshop.com/Pontus_Aberg_Jersey-35. However, the fact that Sullivan was confident only having eleven forwards in the Eastern Conference Finals shows how much trust he trusts the depth of his elite forward core. However, there are arguments that the depth carried by the Penguins is over-performing. For instance, Jake Guentzel has received a lot of press for his phenomenal playoffs https://www.predatorsoutletshop.com/Custom_Jersey-4, having scored nine goals already. However, he riding at a 23.7 shooting percentage that is in no way sustainable. Furthermore, Bryan Rust and his six goals are coming from a 17.1 shooting percentage. With all due respect to Guentzel and Rust, unless your name is Leon Draisaitl, those numbers simply are unsustainable. Just ask the Blue Jackets and their 16-game winning streak, during which they had similar numbers as a collective team.The Usual CulpritsTo nobody surprise, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have lead the Penguins all season long and are the key driving forces in getting the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals. Courtesy of hockeyviz.com While Crosby lead the Penguins in both goals and assists during the regular season, finishing with 44 goals and 45 assists for 89 points, Evgeni Malkin has been the top scorer in the playoffs. However, Malkin has been extremely streaky. He managed eleven of his 24 points in the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets and has since considerably cooled off. However, he broke out for another three points, all on the powerplay, in a 7-0 blowout of the Ottawa Senators in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Preventing Malkin from feeling comfortable is going to be monumental if the Predators want to win this series. Furthermore, one can just talk about Malkin. Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson once said that true superstars make those around them better. Sidney Crosby exemplifies this trait better than any other player in hockey https://www.predatorsoutletshop.com/Brad_Hunt_Jersey-27. From James Neal to Kunitz to Sheary, Crosby has elevated the play of his linemates. Heck, basically the only reason Kunitz made the 2014 Team Canada Olympic roster was because of his chemistry with Crosby. Courtesy of hockeyviz.com Looking at the above graph, it may be difficult to see where Sidney Crosby 87 is when boxed in red, but if youe looking for how well the Penguins play with Crosby in the lineup, he the blue box farthest right. The Penguins are exponentially better with Sidney Crosby in the lineup than without him and there is no reason to believe that he will be anything less than a handful for the Predators.