The Penguins simply don’t truly know how to beat this team, or don’t have what it takes (maybe both). They even won the face-off battle tonight, but they still came up short. They can’t buy a break, and can’t generate enough ‘good’ chances. Guerin & Crosby both hit posts, and sent shots wide… but a lot of their shots have gone right into Chris Osgood’s chest in both games in this series. The Wings’ ‘D’ has helped ‘Ozzie’ out a lot, and the Conn Smythe Trophy he’ll be holding above his head in a week or so could be the easiest Conn Smythe won in the history of this game. I also think the Wings are in the Pens’ heads… big time!
Dan Bylsma made a mistake, in my opinion, with his lineup change tonight. If you’re going to take out a defenseman in favor of Pascal Dupuis, how can you not take out Hal Gill?? He’s arguably the slowest player in the NHL, and if you want to deny that, put in the video tape… he freakin’ pumps his arms AS HARD AS HE CAN, and still skates in quicksand. Philippe Boucher has played well this postseason, and should’ve gotten the nod over Gill… just my 2 cents.
And Bylsma may have to do some more changin’ up on Tuesday. Evgeni Malkin indeed received an instigator penalty with 18 seconds left as he came in and picked a fight with Zetterberg in a post-whistle scrum. So you know what that means… it’s an automatic suspension for Game 3 unless Colin Campbell & the league rule that it should not have been an instigator. I don’t see Campbell lifting that instigator penalty, unless the NHL continues to play favorites. I’m not going to predict what the league will do, but this could be another break that doesn’t go Pittsburgh’s way.
I would really like to hear something directly from the league offices about the two times Zetterberg has played net-minder in this series… and why they weren’t ruled penalty shots. Tonight’s save by Zetterberg wasn’t as conclusive as to whether to closed his hand on the puck as last night’s… but he still got away with one. Last night, when Zetterberg covered the puck on Osgood’s back (in the crease), I don’t know how there wasn’t even a discussion as to whether it should’ve been a penalty shot or not.
Even though he’s not getting great help from the d-men in front of him, Marc-Andre Fleury again allowed a bad goal. Abdeldaker’s fade-away slap shot early in the 3rd should not have gone in! If I was in net, I would know that I should have stopped that shot. Fleury knows he gave up a softie, and should play determined & desperate in Game 3.
For the Wings, they’ve played really well in these first 2 games… don’t take all of this the wrong way. I especially think guys like Zetterberg, Filppula, and Helm have been magnificent. Osgood has been solid, and the d-men have clogged up any lanes the Pens think they have.
Most of the confidence Pittsburgh had coming into this series after winning 8 of 9 has been lost. They have to be going to back home wondering ‘how do we beat these guys?’ If you were to tell me before tonight’s game that the Pens would win the face-off and special team battles, along with outshooting Detroit, I would have penciled in a Pittsburgh win. Now if I were to put a percentage on their chances on coming back and winning the Cup, I’d give the Pens a 10% chance, assuming ‘Geno will have to sit Tuesday; if he doesn’t get suspended, maybe 15%.
On Tuesday, the Pens have to come out like gangbusters and win convincingly. Not 3-2 in overtime, not 2-1 in a close game. Pittsburgh has to send a message with a 4-1-type win, and that’s only happening if ‘Geno dodges suspension. They have to initiate the energy and get the Igloo fired up. That’s their only hope if you ask me. Bylsma & company have to take Detroit’s game and shove it right down their throats. Also, Crosby has to get away from Lidstrom & Zetterberg as much as possible, and that will be easier with being at home. Sid has remarkably been held pointless for 2 straight games. He had been held pointless in 2 games total in these playoffs.
Pittsburgh still has hope in this series, and cannot give up. But it’s looking more and more like we’re going to see Detroit go back-to-back, as unfortunate as it may be.
UPDATE (11:30 PM CT): Evgeni Malkin will NOT be suspended, as the NHL has already taken away the automatic suspension for Game 3... BIG break for the Pens.