Saturday, May 31, 2008

Looking to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals Tonight

Game 3 the Penguins came alive, they were still out shot, but they certainly were NOT manhandled in any way, and of course "Sid the Kid" played to the level he's capable of which on anybody's scale is awesome. Marc-Andre Fluery was again excellent as well with a save percentage of 94.1% while facing 34 shots compared to the human numbers of 87.5% while facing 24 shots by Chris Osgood at the other end of the rink. The Pens took two more penalties than they had power plays but they gave up only one power play goal to Detroit on their 5 chances. Penguins' coach Michel Therrien used the last line change well and the +/- numbers of Crosby, Malkin and Hossa bear that out. So what's in store tonight?

Both teams had a day off on Thursday, the Red Wings went to Nemocolin Woodlands (a great get away not at all too far from DC for a great weekend escape) did some relaxing, some bonding and some marketing for the NHL. The Penguins apparently took a real day off Crosby told the MSM he laid around, mostly in bed, apparently alone getting rest. Hal Gill indicated he lounged and spent the day in Pittsburgh with his family going out to lunch. The point being both teams got a day to rest and relax on Thursday and were back at practice on Friday. For the Red Wings Tomas Holmstrom sat out Friday's practice but indicated he intends to play. As far as intangibles for the Pens, more sadly, Kris Letang received word that his best friend, Vancouver Canuck, Luc Bourdon was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident , Letang has indicated he is shocked by the news and had trouble focusing on hockey yesterday. All of this means both teams should have a high energy level in general but both also have a few potential "chinks" in their armour. Expect the Red Wings to again work very hard at "bottling up" Crosby and Hossa, as well as Malkin; and expect Coach Therrien to again make good use of the last line change to get them freed up some more than they were in Games 1 and 2. The things to watch are potentially elsewhere - for the Red Wings how will Johan Franzen react, his second game back? and how will Holmstrom's injury slow him down? will a rested Chris Osgood return to the impenetrable force in the Red Wings' net he was in games 1 and 2? - for the Penguins, how will Hal Gill handle the Red Wings in front of the Pens net? will Kris Letang be able focus on the game and play the inspired hockey of which he is capable? and will the Pens figure out how to at least match the Red Wings in shots on goal?

(Ed Note: There will be a moment of silence tonight before the game for Luc Bourdon, as the father of an 18 year old son, I can only imagine the grief and depth of the nightmare this untimely death is for his family. My heart truly goes out for them, no father or mother should ever have to deal with what they are going through. They are in our thoughts and prayers and I hope they are in yours as well.)

Stay tuned Caps Hockey Fans, tonight's game is on the same "bat station" at the same "bat time" as Wednesday night's - NBC. Tune in to see how this plays out, after all, it's the only hockey we've got available till Camp Opens at Kettler or even better, the pre-season starts.

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

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