Saturday, May 30, 2009

Musings During Stanley Cup Finals Game 1

Well I started to watch the beginning of the Red Wings - Penguins game but then NBC started their usual stuff and Doc Emmrich and others started with the Crosby man-love crap in the pregame so I switched over and watched NUMBERS for an hour. So I missed the first period and came back in time for the 1st intermission, and even though the score is tied 1-1 the Crosby coronation/man-love continues. This is just getting sooooo old. I sooo hope that Detroit tunes these guys up so we don't have to continue to listen to how wonderful Crosby is for another year. I really don't have that much against Crosby personally, he seems like a decent guy, but come on he's not the only great player on the ice, especially in this series.

Mike Milbury just said it looks like Evgeni Malkin is following Sidney Crosby's lead and that's why he's getting better. Come on, these guys can't even give Malkin his full due without getting into the Sidney Man-Crush/Love thing. So with less than 30 seconds down in the second period we have excerpts from an interview with Mario the Great who is singing the praises of Sidney the Great. Then we have highlights where they are talking about how great Crosby is on a scoring chance from the first period and instead what they should be talking about with this highlight is the great save by Osgood who denies the Penguins. Next we have a scoring chance by Malkin on a breakaway with ~16:20 left to play in the second period that Osgood denies, and of course the replay shows it was preceded by Malkin tripping up Kronwall and it should have been a penalty. Of course a minute later Brett Ledba slashes Maxime Talbot breaking his stick and giving the Pittsburgh holy Penguins a power play. Wait we'll see how much these NBC commentators can say something great about the Penguins while Marian Hossa does a great job killing the penalty. So as great as Crosby and Malkin are on the power play, Pittsburgh ends up with an icing call against them while they have the man advantage - yet the NBC broadcast team is still talking about the great Penguins - and I am thinking kill me now, I've got to get a big dish so I can get the Canadian feed but wait that might be worse since the Red Wings are "A European Team".

Since Pittsburgh didn't score the referees call a tripping penalty as Stall gets tripped - why is it a trip on Staal but not on Kronwall? At this point of the game, I'm starting to think "I hope the Red Wings score a shortie" and Dan Cleary gets a great scoring chance. So what do the NBC guys start to talk about - how that's only the second shot by the Wings this period - think these guys are a little biased maybe? Nahhh no way, that wouldn't be responsible sports journalism would it now? I mean why would the Wings be a little short on shots on goal now, they've only been short handed ~ 40% of the second period so far. Dan Cleary takes the puck away from Sidney the Great and gets a good shot off but no one points that out for 2 more minutes until Pierre flipping Maguire mentions it in passing as they show the replay. How does a mere mortal like Cleary take the puck away from Crosby - isn't he suppossed to be like a hockey god? Why isn't that a storyline that gets talked about for at least a minute during this 180 minute scheduled Crosby lovefest?

So after the Red Wings successfully killed the second penalty without letting Pittsburgh get too much offense, Dan Bylsma puts out a mixed line of Crosby-Malkin-Cooke and Detroit dominates that shift. Seriously, if not for great back checking by Malkin would have scored. Yet the fact that Crosby didn't look too wonderful that shift seems to pass without much notice, even though Henrik Zetterberg made him look foolish. Maguire asks Bylsma about the mixed lines and Bylsma comes up with the lamest lie in the business indicating he did it to get some guys ice time who didn't get ice time due to the power play. So I'm wondering what are you talking about Coach didn't I just see Crosby and Malkin out for over half the power play that ended, and weren't they only on the bench for one shift before you put them on the ice together at 5 0n 5?.

Next, Detroit blows a line change and Rafalski and Osgood pull Detroit's bacon out of the fire. Rafalski ties up Crosby and what do we talk about. Can you guess - if you said what a great play Rafalski just made, nahhh we'll mention that in passing. Instead we'll talk about how great Sid looked right up till the time Rafelski and Osgood shut him down. Finally the Wings get a power play and I have to admit they don't look too, too great but you have to wonder how Matt Cooke doesn't get a penalty with a very late high hit at the end of that power play. What game were the TWO referees watching on that one? Not the game I was seeing on NBC obviously, I mean Cooke could have gotten 4 minutes for that move and he gets away with a non-call.

So with less than 2 minutes left in the second period, Detroit starts to dominate a shift with Crosby out there. Sidney tries to pull a dive, it doesn't work, the Wings get off three shots before Pittsburgh needs to ice the puck, with a tired team on the ice and less than 1:20 left in the period Pittsburgh calls a timeout. However, Sidney the Great loses the face off and Detroit wins the battle for the puck and scores their second of the night as Johan Franzen does a great play and "buries the biscuit in the basket." The second period ends with Detroit having the momentum and the lead 2-1, I'm left to wonder just how Milbury and Maguire will get their man-love in for Crosby and the Penguins now. Oh wait I'll bet they'll talk about how Pittsburgh out shot the Wings by so much that period. Somehow, they'll rationalize that Sidney the Greats team really should be winning and it's only a matter of time till the scoreboard reflects that reality. [ed note: Let's see how good my prediction on this one is after the commercial break is over.] Well, they started the intermission commentary by showing how great Detroit is playing but wait Milbury just started to talk about how Pittsburgh had chances this period and could be winning. Oh now we have a commercial break again - when they come back how much you want to bet Maguire and Milbury are going to go through it. Maguire is Bylsma and he's talking about that Pittsburgh is down and they need to shoot more and get the puck in deep more. Milbury is saying Detroit has to keep putting thing on net and not let up at all. So I guess I'll relax a little about bias but I still have the feeling they really like Pittsburgh and can't wait to crown Sidney and the Penguins as "hockey gods" - call me jaded. On to period three, LETS GO WINGS!

So the third period starts and Pittsburgh has the momentum for at least the first minute, minute twenty until Marian Hossa puts a nifty outlet pass to Darren Helm who is actually well defended by a great recovery by Hal Gill. However, the next shift Justin Abdelkader has a beautiful move pulling the puck out of the air and puts it into the net top shelf by a stunned Marc-Andre Fluery. Detroit is now up 3-1. At the 15:30 mark, I have to admit the Wings dodged a bullet when the puck somehow ends up right on top of Osgood's back and man is Crosby pissed and lobbying for Zetterberg to get a penalty for closing his hand on the puck. However, the replay seems to show he didn't close his hand on it so that was probably the right call. So somehow I'm not even hearing too much of what Emmrich is saying and even less of what Maguire is saying and I'm thinking: "Thank you, God." Darren Helm just puts in a great shift at ~9:30 left in the period laying out two hits that really get the crowd going. The NBC team is now pointing out how much ice time Detroit's fourth line is getting this period, so maybe before the end of the series they'll realize and acknowledge how deep Detroit is - what do you think? will it happen? So for this period it looks like for the rest of the period it's Zetterberg's job to shut down Crosby and I'm trying to figure out who is being matched up against Malkin. So now with 7:38 left in the period the shifts are getting long for Crosby, Malkin and Guerin and Detroit has to take a timeout because of a nice shift and an icing. Now we're down to ~5:30 left and the clock is definitely NOT Pittsburgh's friend - the NBC broadcast team doesn't mention it though of course instead focusing on what exactly Crosby is doing at this minute - just once I'd like to see this guy pick his nose on national TV wouldn't you.

Now coming off a TV timeout we see Malkin and Crosby out together and "Sid the Great" looses the face off - the broadcast team points out that's bad for the Penguins - finally some objective coverage? Why not it was such an obvious comment I could have made it. At the 3:45 mark Fluery has to come all the way out of the net to break up a break away and the Red Wings almost score again if not for some really nifty acrobatics by the Pens goaltender. With 1:40 left Hossa misses an empty net and somehow the Wings don't score even though they have the puck in the Penguins zone and an empty net for what seemed like an eternity.

It's over. Final score Red Wings 3 - Penguins 1. So now we'll hear how great the Penguins were despite loosing the game. Wow - I hope I'm wrong about tomorrow night and the Red Wings win and end up going to Pittsburgh with a 2-0 lead. It's just so easy to dislike the Penguins since the NBC guys so obviously love them. That said I still think the Penguins will come back, I just hope I'm not right. Finally some love for Osgood - I mean 35 of 36 (a 0.972 Save Percentage). Holy cow - Milbury just said "it wasn't a great day at the office for Sidney Crosby" and now they actually acknowledged he had a dismal 30% win percentage on face offs tonight. Now we even have some love for Darren Helm, wait till next game if Detroit wins, might the NBC guys actually start to root for the Wings?

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