Monday, June 1, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 41

An identical score in back to back games to start the Stanley Cup Final has the odds against the Penguins heading back to Pittsburgh.

Here’s the recap:

(Red Wings 3, Penguins 1)

Things are really starting to heat up between the Wings and the Penguins after two games!

Part of that, I think, is the frustration level of some of the Pittsburgh players after back-to-back losses where they out shot and, at times out played, their opponents.

Things really came to a boil in the final twenty seconds when Max Talbot sort of speared Chris Osgood after the whistle and Evgeni Malkin tried to fight Henrik Zetterberg.

Now, I’ve been fairly critical of the NHL in these playoffs, and here I go again: Evgeni Malkin was assessed an instigator penalty on the play, which is a one game suspension, pending a review of the incident.

Do you not think it looks bad for the league to (twice) look at an incident after the game and go back on what their officials called on the ice? If they’re going to do that, why not go over the game tape with a fine-toothed comb and call the penalties the refs missed?

Faced with the prospect of not having one of the Penguins superstars in the lineup for game three, NHL Executive VP and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell rescinded the Malkin suspension after the game.

Anyways, back to the game.

After all those bad bounces against them in game one, the Penguins got one in their favor on the power play late in the first period when Brad Stuart inadvertently batted a puck into his own net.

But the good luck wouldn’t last.

Pittsburgh hit post after post and were stymied by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood time and again for the rest of the game.

Once again, the Red Wings got big games from their role players in game two. After a high-pressure shift in the second period, during with the Penguins iced the puck, Jonathan Ericsson (who had his appendix removed last week) scored from the point on the ensuing face off.

Who else, but Darren Helm, was in front of the net screening Marc-Andre Fleury.

Then, in a scramble around the net on the tail end of a Detroit power play, Valtteri Filppula found mesh with a bad-angle backhand shot to give the Wings the lead.

At about the same point in the third period, with the score the same, youngster Justin Abdelkader then corralled a bouncing puck and hit the top corner with a perfectly placed shot that seemed to surprise Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Michigan-native now has two playoff goals before ever tallying in the regular season.

Game three goes Tuesday in Pittsburgh. It’s make or break for the Penguins, who will either come out of the game with some life, or they’ll be facing elimination. The stats aren’t on their side though.

Of the 32 teams that have gone down 2-0 to start a series, only the 1971 Montreal Canadiens have come back to win it.

Obviously that has no bearing on how things will go from here on out, but for the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup, they’ll now have to beat Detroit in four of the next five games.


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