Well the blogsphere and the main stream media are storming to find something to stir interest and even more hype in tonight's Red Wings - Penguins game 2; as if a rematch of last year's finals between two teams loaded with talent isn't enough. Greg Wyshynski aka "Puck Daddy" over at Yahoo Sports and a bevy of commenters over at TSN.com's story on the game were suitably unimpressed by Sidney the wonderful Crosby's moves and post games comments to post a lot on the matter. Of course the Penguin's faithful just shrugged it off by the rest of hockey fandom for either a) being jealous at not having Mr. Wonderful on their team, b) being jealous that they are not as talented or wonderful as young Mr. Crosby or c) part of the grand conspiracy against the Penguins and a diversion from the fact the biased, poor officiating cost them the game because they didn't get a penalty shot when Henrik Zetterberg almost closed his hand on a puck that was sitting atop Chris Osgood's back in the crease. But the real story is as Red Wing's coach Mike Babcock is noted to point out over at NHL.Com - the battle, the game within the game between Zetterberg and Crosby or at least the game between them last evening.
Interestingly, even NHL.com can't avoid mentioning that some noted hockey people, including Babcock, aren't too thrilled with Crosby's behaviour and style of play of late. The story over at NHL.com includes the following verbiage: "And what of Babcock's statement that Crosby was head hunting on his hit on Zetterberg? ... He can say whatever he wants," Crosby said. "I don't think I've been known as a head hunter throughout my career. He's the first one to ever say that, so it's pretty interesting stuff." Well perhaps Crosby's defense is true enough he only had 80 hits this regular season despite his earlier claim that he finishes every check so maybe he's not a head hunter. I sort of think more about his nut seeking fisticuffs moves when I think of Mr. Wonderful and his quest for the Lady Byng Trophy. So when the Penguins fans talk about a conspiracy against their team and Captain, please pardon my rant on their hypocrisy. How can you just shrug off stories and stuff like the ones after his nut punch in the national media just 6 short months ago and make like Sid the Kid is the role model you want every Canadian hockey player to emulate because Ovie did a really silly post #50 goal celebration?
I do confess though I have less an issue with Crosby then the disrespect that Christobel Huet showed the Caps Organization and fan base after we all embraced him last season - that said I am so much happier the Caps have Jose Theodore in the goal tending mix than Huet right now. In fact I can easily think of like 1 million reasons why I feel that way right now and 5.5 million I'll feel that way in 2010, but I digress. Back to Sidney Crosby the fifth or sixth best guy on the ice last night for the Penguins vs. Henrik Zetterberg the Red Wings No. 1 forward. Yes, that should be quite a battle. Latest out of Detroit is that Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will again be scratched tonight due to injury. Instead the Wings will dress Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader. The urgency for Datsyuk to get back was alleviated somewhat by the effectiveness of Detroit's fourth line, a unit featuring Kirk Maltby, Leino and Abdelkader. If Crosby's poor form move did anything real last evening it was to add emphasis to the effectiveness on Detroit's fourth line last night, of course so too did the fact Abdelkader got his first playoff goal.
Bottom line is tonight's game should be a great one. Key players for each team's success will be: for Pittsburgh Marc-Andre Fluery; for Detroit whoever Coach Mike Babcock has shadow Sidney Crosby - I don't think that will be Zetterberg, at least not during the first period, I'm thinking it actually might be Maltby. As for other key match ups/players I'm looking for Brian Rafaleski to be on the ice a lot of the time when Malkin is out there. For Pittsburgh Bill Guerin, Maxine Talbot, or Ruslan Fedotenko could be the key "second tier" guy to make or break the game. For Detroit in addition to Rafalski, watch Franzen, Cleary and Helm, as well as Marian Hossa of course, any one of those guys had chances to notch a few more tallies last night and could do so tonight.
Well it's not watching the Capitals but at least it's very, very good ice hockey and the best we're going to see until next October.
LETS GO WINGS - LETS GO CAPS!!!!