Monday, May 26, 2008

Wings Flew to Game 1 Victory - Downed Penguins 4 - 0 in Series Opener

Saturday night the Detroit Red Wings basically "man-handled" the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals opening game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. After the first ten minutes of the first period, that were, for the most part, the usual opening of a multi-game series, the sort of tentative "feel each other out" cautious, don't make too any mistakes kind of hockey, the Red Wings "turned on the jets" and basically shut down the Penguins for the remaining 50 minutes of the game.

Tonight it's game two, once again in Detroit. For the Penguins to win, they'll once again need super goaltending from Marc-Andre Fluery since it appears Chris Osgood continues to make that aspect of the game, "the price of admission". Some pundits are indicating this series is NOT a goaltenders battle and it's NOT JUST a goaltenders battle. However, there is indeed a goaltenders battle being waged within the larger battle between these two powerhouse teams. While a lot of comparisons will be made between the young Fluery and the experienced Osgood, on Saturday Fluery had a save % of 88.88% stopping 32 of 36 shots and Osgood posted a save % of 100% stopping all 19 of the Penguins shots. To be sure, Fluery's play in the first and second periods was, in large part, the only reason the Penguins started the third period within 2 goals of winning the game. During period 1 and 2 the Penguins were out shot by the Wings 27 - 16 and that was only because the Penguins spent much of the last half of the first period on the powerplay. The Red Wings won Saturday night's game in the neutral zone. During the second and third periods, Pittsburgh's powerful offensive weapons could not get moving and were rarely allowed to "setup" in the offensive zone. Detroit's penalty killing unit(s) were excellent holding a powerplay unit that averages a 25% success rate scoreless for 9:50 AND scoring a shorthanded goal late in the third period to go up 3-0.

Like Detroit, Pittsburgh is a powerhouse of a team and no doubt will make adjustments in tonight's game. After the lesson they got on Saturday, fans can be sure that the young guns from Pittsburgh will indeed "kick it up a notch". In game one the "less physical"/smaller/older Red Wings out hit the Pens 31 - 25 and swarmed over both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was held to just 1 shot and Crosby to only 3. Adding insult to injury on one the few shifts where Pens coach Michel Therrien put Crosby and Malkin out together, in what appeared to be an attempt to force the Wings to open the game up a bit early in the third period, the Red Wings' Mikael Samuelsson scored his second goal of the game to put Detroit up 2-0. Perhaps the worst outcome of Saturday's game is the Red Wing's have given the rest of the league a blueprint of how to take apart the Penguins, even with Crosby, Malkin, and Marian Hossa all in the lineup. Of course to do it you need a tremendous amount of talent, like the Red Wings have, and to play awfully solid, near flawless hockey yourselves. In any case, the interesting thing tonight will be watching the adjustments the Penguins have made in the first period and Detroit's reaction and counter to them in the second and third periods.

For Caps fans though it's nice to know those blasted flightless birds are vulnerable. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!! Can't wait till next season.

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