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THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Stanley Cup Notes: Same Story, Different Domination

By:
05/27/2008 8:24 AM -

By Chad Huebner

So I’m here for the beginning of Game 2, which was no small feat (see my previous column). Game 1 was a pretty good game for the first period, but the rest of it belonged to Detroit. Can Pittsburgh sustain a superhuman level the entire game to tie this series going back to Steeltown? Sure, it’s next to impossible to come back from a 3-0 deficit, but I think a 2-0 deficit can be just as debilitating. I also promise that “debilitating” will be the biggest word I use in writing this blow-by-blow account.

Pregame

They showed that commercial again, the one that’s a composite of Stanley Cup celebrations over the years, where the players hoist the Cup. I noticed that when they lower the Cup to kiss it, it’s almost always on the bands with the names, and not the middle ridge of the trophy. It must mean more to touch the names with ones mouth. Oookayyy, I went to a weird place there.

So some bubble-headed blonde is singing the National Anthem. Even though there isn’t a Canadian team playing in the Final, shouldn’t they just have someone sing “O, Canada?” It’s such a cool anthem, and besides, most of the players are Canadian anyway.

1st Period

Spotlight on Gary Roberts, who’s coming over his third case of pneumonia. His third. I haven’t even gotten it once, and I know I wouldn’t even try playing a hockey game right after having it.

Versus says this game is available on HD, which doesn’t do me any good, since I’m watching it on a 20-year-old Zenith at my parents’ place (while they get the big screen set in the family room; ahh, the sacrifices I must make). On this TV, HD is like having color instead of black-and-white.

Seems like Nicklas Kronwall makes a big hit in every series this year. This one though looked like he left the ice a little to do it, but still, just a small facet to the Red Wings’ physical game.

If the Pens win, it’ll be because Crosby and Malkin succeed. Crosby’s been doing all the work, while Malkin (1 shot in Game 1) has been a no-show so far.

It only took about seven minutes for the Red Wings to take control on Brad Stuart’s slap shot that bounces off of A-F into the net. First Cup goal for him, a former L.A. King and San Jose Shark. Again, it’s the lesser-known guys that are coming through.

As if to emphasize my point of early domination, Versus flashes the stat that Detroit is 11-1 this postseason when scoring first.

Pittsburgh might not be hitting Detroit, but they are definitely hitting themselves, as Hal Gill’s stick comes up and slashes Rob Scuderi across the face. Talk about adding injury to insult.

Another important stat flashed, Shots on Goal: Detroit 6, Pittsburgh 0. It’s like periods two and three of Game 1.

It was Henrik Zetterberg’s shot that squirted underneath A-F, but it was Tomas Holmstrom who pushed it into the net. Again, it’s another lesser-known guy getting the credit. I’ve nearly forgotten about Henrik What’s-His-Face and Pavel Who’s-That-Guy.

Period comes to a close, Detroit out shoots Pittsburgh 12-6, with all six Penguin shots coming on the PP, and it looks like they’ll need to put Lemieux back in uniform to generate any sort of offense. Heck, is Paul Coffey available? He’s played for both sides, so to make things fair; he could play with Pittsburgh in the second and Detroit in the third. No, I’m not old school, why do you ask?

1st Intermission

Brian Engblom says the Pittsburgh attack is “baffled”. No, the Bush Administration (which is an oxymoron) is baffled, the Pitt attack is “stymied”.

Keith Jones doesn’t think it’s Malkin’s fault for not being effective. I normally agree with Jonesy, but clearly, other than mucking it up along the boards, Malkin hasn’t been anything like he was the pervious three rounds of the postseason.

 Surprisingly, Pittsburgh is out hitting Detroit 19-14. Still, hits alone don’t reflect the amount of pressure Detroit has put on the Pens in the offensive zone. Besides, it isn’t the quantity; it’s the quality (what guys believe, anyway).

2nd Period

My girlfriend came into the room to watch the game because, as she puts it “It’s this or watching some antiques show with your parents.” Hey, there’s a slogan for the NHL: It’s better than watching some antiques show.

Oh, and that 11-1 record for Detroit when scoring first? Same goes for leading after the first period (outscoring the other side 25-8). I see no connection, do you? Riiiight.

Olcyzk says “Somebody’s got to make a play for the Penguins.” Again, there’s a lack of urgency. No, I don’t want to use that word, because it reminds me too much of the Foreigner song. How about Billy Joel’s “Pressure”?

Heard Malkin’s name for the first time this series in conjunction with a good play on the net. Then he gets unceremoniously dumped along the boards behind the net by Johan Franzen. Now there’s a guy who should get mentioned more often.

For want of a steady skate, Lilja nearly gives away a Pittsburgh goal when he stumbles, and Jordan Staal makes a pretty good shot on Ozzie, but he makes another great save.

I’d recap the period, but I’d sound like a broken record. Hard for the Pens to make a comeback without any goals.

2nd Intermission

Jonesy pointed out Crosby has only been on the ice for 13 minutes this game. That’s a crime. Michel Therrien needs to send him out nearly every shift, as Malkin isn’t the only one to disappear. Remember Marian Hossa? You know the guy the Pens mortgaged their future to get him?

I thought it was Maxime Talbot, not Max. When did that happen? Is it Ev Malkin now? Or I am getting too testy because I had the Pens winning this series in seven, and it looks like now it’ll be a Red Wings sweep? I dunno! Grrrrr!

3rd Period

Oh, now Hossa gets noticed. . . for a holding penalty 20 seconds into the start of the period. Not the way to come out of the break when you need a spark.

Showed shots of Chelly working out in the morning skate, though he’s not active tonight, But they also showed his son, Dean, who’s 18 and playing junior hockey with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Yikes. Item #285 of Gee, That Makes Me Feel Really Old.

One of the biggest taboos in hockey, other than trying to make a pass across your own crease, is to not take a penalty while you’re on the PP. Ryan Malone did just that, and while I like his toughness (suffered his third broken nose in his playoff career), this is just inexcusable.

And Valterri Filppula (geez, another B-star) makes him pay with a pretty, diving goal reminiscent of Bobby Orr’s Series winner in Game 4 of the 1970 Finals. Half a period to go, but it looks like “game over” already.

Didn’t see the play live, but Franzen went down like a sack of mud. Replay showed Roberts hitting him up high, finishing the sketchy check with a glove to the face. Not good for Franzen, who’s coming off of “concussion-like” symptoms from the Conference Finals. To me, “concussion-like” is just concussion, because I think a hit to the melon hurts no matter what.

Finally, emotions boil over and a scrum ensues, with. . . Franzen?! Okay, he’s the new “tough guy” no matter how many hits Kronwall makes this series.

More chippiness by the Pens, as they go after Franzen, Ozzie, nearly everyone except Gordie Howe, and I think he could still cut anyone to ribbons with his elbows. Finally, fists start flying when Petr Sykora knocks down Ozzie with his elbow. As a Pens fan you have to wonder where this emotion was the first two games of this series, right? Well, you can only hope the Pens come out super-pissed from the first face-off in Game 3, otherwise, what was touted as the best Cup Finals in a long time will quickly turn into a one-sided snooze fest.

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind, hopefully hockey related. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.
 




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