Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wings strike first

Stanley Cup final
(1) Detroit v. (2) Pittsburgh
Red Wings lead series 1-0
But the Red Wings — relying heavily on their experience — shrugged off that early setback and also successfully killed off four first-period penalties, the two keys in recording a 4-0 win over the visiting Penguins at the Joe Louis Arena. The victory gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 2 set to be played Monday here in Detroit.

Two unassisted goals by Mikael Samuelsson made the difference offensively for a Detroit team that relied on its four-line attack.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien's comments in the postgame presser essentially tell the story:

"I don't know if it was the nerves. But definitely that was the worst performance of the playoffs. We didn't compete like we were supposed to compete."

And then, to end the session: "Obviously every time you go further in the playoffs you meet quality teams. And there's no doubt this is the best team we're facing right now. That's why we're here."

And here's Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot: "You start on the road. You want to win one game on the road. And Game 2 is right in front of us, and we have to figure out how to win that game."

They'd better hope so. Down 2-0 to start the series isn't a desirable position, to say the least. There's no question who deserved to win Game 1, given Pittsburgh was out shot 25-7 in the second and third periods, and that's going to have to change in a hurry for the Penguins to avoid a huge hole come Monday.

On a somewhat related note, I'll be on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh on Sunday morning at 11:30, discussing this series with host Rob Pratte and co-host Ted Arneault. Feel free to tune in.

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At 1:58 a.m., May 25, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

Just the latest in a very long line of Wings opponents who played ~the worst game they have in ages, and aren't sure why they seemed so flat.

P.S. It ain't nerves.

At 7:41 a.m., May 25, 2008, Blogger Mr. Thursday said...

"...relying heavily on their experience... relied on its four-line attack..."

I don't mean to pick on Eric Duhatschek, but, what else is Detroit supposed to do? They've got experience, and they've got four lines that can play some offense. Saying that Detroit had to "rely" on these things sounds like someone's trying to make excuses for the Pens loss. Just bizarre wording. Might as well have said "Detroit, relying heavily on their legs to skate..."

Anyway, I was joking to a friend of mine that the series would go "Detroit in 3". We'll see how the Pens rebound--they certainly looked like they were going stride for stride with the Red Wings for the first half of the first period. Somehow, the wheels came off pretty hard for them thereafter. I think they (the Pens) can rebound with a better game, but last night, the Red Wings just abused Pittsburgh.

At 8:23 a.m., May 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First period both teams looked a little jittery (Penguins more so, maybe) and with all the penalties for Detroit I think Pittsburgh was really deflated not scoring a goal at some point.

Second game Pittsburgh will be better, they should have some idea what areas are most important, but Detroit will also be better. They know perfectly well they can't count on the Pittsburgh power-play to go 0-for forever, and they have also gotten the jitters out of the way.

Should be a good game. See if the Penguins can adjust and make a series of it, or they will really encounter some adversity if they go home down 2-0.

At 9:22 a.m., May 25, 2008, Blogger Mr.Poindexter said...

Of course, there's also the liklihood of the NHL taking steps to 'equalize' opportunity.
For instance, I have it on good authority that Bettman is convening an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee to finalize the drafting of a new regulation that would penalize Tomas Holmtrom any time he crossed the blue line on a Red Wings power-play.
The Wings penalty kill was particularly impressive last night, including a +1 for the 4 minutes Lidstrom was in the box. Old-timers like myself can tell you about a cold, wintery night in Alberta, back in aught 2 I think it was, when Nick (known in these parts as The Real Best Player in Hockey) last had two penalties in the same game.

At 9:44 a.m., May 25, 2008, Blogger Leather McWhip said...

I agree Poindexter, that crease violation was ridiculous. Babcock was hilarious post-game talking about it.

In all, Detroit obviously won out, and I for one am glad (despite being a Blackhawks fan ... the only team in the West to win its season series against the Wings!); ultimately, too, the Pens were sucked into the dreaded Wing Vortex in periods 2 and 3 and weren't able to muster the mental effort to battle through it. Still, I think Pittsburgh had a lot of missed opportunities--especially in the first 30 minutes--that, converted, would have changed the complexion of the game, if not the final result.

I expect the Pens to convert some of those chances in game 2, and to create them more consistently besides. Also, I think Therrien will realize the extremely stupid mistake of having chosen Roberts to sit in the pressbox so that Hall could play (the Pens are inexperienced enough, I just can't believe he wasn't playing). He'll be back.

Those two factors, I think, coupled with Detroit's reliable all-round excellence, will make for a much closer game 2.

At 10:36 a.m., May 25, 2008, Blogger Mr.Poindexter said...

The Blackhawks were indeed the Wings toughest opponent throughout the regular season and I welcome the resurgence of the team. There's a good young nucleus over there.
My very first memories of NHL hockey are the Hawks of Hull, Mikita, Pilate, and Hall playing the Wings at the Olympia, and I still tend to root for Chicago when they aren't playing Detroit.

At 12:22 p.m., May 25, 2008, Anonymous johnny said...

that was the most timid i've seen pittsburgh in the playoffs. they were slow and looked to be scared to death of any physical contact. add to that the fact that they had almost no offensive zone pressure and looked flustered in front of the net. from the first five minutes i had a feeling the game would end like it did.


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