Monday, May 26, 2008

Detroit Blanks Pittsburgh Again (3-0) Take 2 - 0 Series Lead

Last night, Detroit again controlled the tempo and play of the game for 60:00 minutes and beat Pittsburgh to take a 2 - 0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Once again Marc - Andre Fluery played an excellent game in net for the Penguins and delivered a save percentage of 91.2% on the 34 shots the Red Wings sent his way. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Chris Osgood again stopped 100% of the 22 shots the Penguins managed to take.

The Red Wings dominated most aspects of the game despite coming up behind or only matching the Pens in several statistical categories. The Penguins didn't get their first shot on net until over 12 minutes of the first period had been played. The only aspect of the Red Wings game that didn't hit on all cylinders was their power play. The Wings didn't score a power play goal all night despite having a man advantage for 13:20 of the game. The series now goes to Pittsburgh where the Penguins haven't lost since February 24th. It will again be interesting to see what adjustments and line match-ups the Penguins try now that they have the last line change. The Pens need to make some major changes to their game plan in order to turn things around because right now the Red Wings look like the much better team. (Ed Note: Maybe I should leave the prognostication to Peerless.) The nice aspect of this story no matter who you are rooting for? Thirty-five (35) year old, Chris Osgood is only the fourth goalie, all-time, to start a Stanley Cup Finals with two straight shut-outs. Not bad for a guy who came into the net in relief in the first round of this year's playoffs. Perhaps Osgood's performance is a reason, thirty eight (38) year old Olaf Kolzig believes he can still be a dominant, number 1 goalie in the NHL next season. Of course it might also be cause to hope another thirty-something goaltender might be able to anchor the Washington Capital's drive to their first Stanley Cup next year... In any case if the Pens can't make some effective adjustments in the next two days and Osgood and his teammates keep playing the kind of hockey they've shown fans in the first two games, this might be a very short series.

On the Washington Caps news front, for all those folks clogging up the Capital's Insider with comments about what GMGM should have done before or instead of signing Karl Alzner last week; please note the following facts:
1) Alzner was the Caps number 1 pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and as such the Caps had until June 1st (this coming Sunday) to get him under contract.
2) By virtually all accounts and scouting reports the 19 year old is the best Defensemen who did NOT play in the NHL last year - in other words a tru "blue chip prospect" and the Caps would have been crazy to let him get away.
3) The three year entry level contract Alzner and the Caps signed is apparently very similar to the deal Caps Defenseman Mike Green signed three years ago (Green's deal averaged $833K/year).

Most of the folks blog posters and commenters feel the Caps should have signed before they signed Alzner, will indeed be signed. It's likely the Caps have now started serious discussion with many of them now that the IIHF Worlds are over. In most cases the posts involve Mike Green and Christobel Huet, or the Caps Goaltending picture in general. Some of these posts are obviously based on uneducated emotional reactions such as:
- One recent poster indicated he felt the Caps should try desperately to trade Tom Poti away - seems kind of ridiculous when you look at and understand Poti's role on the team and understand the 31 year old led the Caps in Ice Time, had a +/- rating of +9 often against the oppositions best forwards, and often was a stalwart on the penalty killing units. (Poti is under contract through July 2011 with an annual Salary Cap Hit of $3.5M - which will probably be the average or a steal for a top 2/to 4 defenseman after this year's free agent signings.)
- Other posts and comments indicate many do NOT understand what the word Restricted means before the words Free Agent in the terms of the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Shoanne Morrisson; Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Steve Emminger, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, along with minor leaguers Stephen Warner and Jamie Hunt are all RESTRICTED Free Agents this year. Certainly Caps Management will resign and/or match any qualifying offers most of these great young players get.
- Another subject of many posts and comments relate to the resigning of Sergei Federov, the thirty-eight year old veteran of 1,196 NHL regular season and 169 NHL playoff games trade deadline pickup, played a stellar post season and was super in the IIHF championships. Most point to that and the clear spark he and young Russian teammates Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin seem to have when they play together as the reason the Caps should resign him now. This despite the fact it is unclear whether Federov wants to play another season in the NHL (his 19th) and the fact that the Caps need to have the right role and salary cap room for him when a healthy Michael Nylander and Chris Clark return to the lineup next season.

Can't wait till next season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!

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