Archive for the ‘Stanley Cup’ Category

Gut Reactions: Playoff Seeding and Stanley Cup Winner

October 1, 2009

The guessing gets even … guess…ier… *cough*

Eastern Conference
1. Washington Capitals
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Boston Bruins
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. New Jersey Devils
6. Montreal Canadiens
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Buffalo Sabres
Just missed: New York Rangers, Florida Panthers
Commentary: This is NOT necessarily how the playoffs would turn out. Generally, I think Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Boston all project to be better post-season teams but Washington will feast off of a weak division to take the #1 seed.
I feel a little uncomfortable picking Montreal and New Jersey to place that high, but after the top four I’m pretty stumped.
SCF Conference Rep: Boston Bruins
Western Conference

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Calgary Flames
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
8. Los Angeles Kings
Just missed: St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars
Commentary: The criticism for San Jose has gotten a bit extreme. Why not throw a little vitriol to Calgary or Vancouver as they’ve disappointed over the years in their own way? It’s fine to make some jokes about the Sharks, but you win the games you can win and worry about the playoffs when they come.
SCF Conference Rep: San Jose Sharks

So I guess I can die without regrets?

June 14, 2009

No doubt about it: I’m a lucky bastard when it comes to sports.

But I’ve also managed to follow two sports teams that have some of the most hated/polarizing athletes in their given leagues (the Penguins with Sidney Crosby and the New York Giants with Eli Manning). Hating Manning always made a little more sense to me: his Elmer Fudd accent, refusal to play in San Diego and the tides of nepotism all made him an easy target.

The hatred of Crosby is an interesting little dichotomy. On one hand, he’s the ultimate Pepsi Challenge; I’m completely convinced that if he was some guy who wore a blank jersey, his high-effort and unselfish playing style would make hockey snobs swoon. Yet much like our nation’s preference of Coca-Cola, the key really is in packaging. Hockey fans live with an inferiority complex: our game is fast, exciting and violent … all the elements of what football should be … but most of America could give a shit. So when one guy gets as much attention as Crosby receives, it’s natural that many fans react to Crosby like he’s pushing them into a locker while wearing a letter jacket. Or calling them “Darrrsh!”

I get it. Seriously, I really do. I’d probably hate him if I wasn’t a Penguins fan. I think.

But as a fan of both the Giants and Penguins for as long as I’ve followed either sport, I am “stuck” with Eli and “Cindy.” Even if those two teams saw a marathon of 0-22 drubbings to the Carolina Panthers and seasons with Dick Tarnstrom as their scoring leader, I would have been there through it all.

There are plenty of places to read gloating/ecstatic Penguins fans. So I’ll try to spare you as much as possible.

The only other thing I’ll offer is this: the fact that the Penguins beat the Red Wings makes it much sweeter. And not because of the tired Hossa storyline (although that did make me laugh). No, it was sweeter because the Red Wings are the greatest sports franchise on the face of the earth. Up and down their roster and all throughout their organization, there is nothing but competence. As I pointed out to a friend, it’s one thing to win a championship by beating the Seattle Seahawks or some Cinderella team. But being a true juggernaut? That’s special.

OK, that’s my paragraph of annoyance. (One question, though: how am I supposed to feel about Marc Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal now? Not sure I can be objective about those two ever again.)


More on this later, but expect CLS to be pretty damn lively for most of the summer. I can see a lot of the team blogs shutting down without Game Day posts and the like … as a NHL blog, though, there should still be a reason to check out our site on a regular basis. Will there be a “vacation” at some point? Maybe, to some extent.

We should have big events for: the NHL draft, Free Agency, the release of NHL ’10/NHL 2K10, Fantasy Hockey drafts and the opening of the 09-10 season. So keep us in your minds, hearts and Google Reader subscription lists.


Game 7 from a Pens fan perspective

June 12, 2009

Since the Penguins’ two Cup wins were before my time (I think I was more focused on professional wrestling and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” than hockey in those days), this is probably the biggest hockey game of my existence. It might even be safe to say that this is the biggest game in franchise history, as it is the first SCF Game 7 the Penguins have ever seen.

An irritating-to-painful sickness has dulled some of the nerves of the last week of this series, but tonight could be quite different.

That actually is the question, though: will tonight be different?

As Mirtle (and others) point out, this series has been a “homer” series if there’s ever been one. Beyond undeniably relevant intangibles like “home cooking” and the rush of playing in front of your own crowd there are big pros to being at the Joe: faceoff advantages for an expert team in the circle, the last change for a series defined by matchups and those crazy pinball boards that have given MAF fits.

If Game 5 repeats itself, the NHL will face the disappointment of a marquee matchup with a flat ending. No doubt about it; the league must hope that tonight’s game will be very different even if the winner is the same.

There are a lot of reasons to be negative. Sidney Crosby has been largely nullified, even at times at home. Chris Osgood is making a strong case for a Conn Smythe trophy and although his HoF credentials are a debate for another day, his sub-$2 million contract is probably a HoF bargain. Fleury is schizophrenic in net … going from bad to spectacular to atrocious to adequate seemingly every other game. Worst yet, Evgeni Malkin has been relatively quiet the last couple games.

But the positive thing is: they only need to be different for one game.

In the event that Crosby and Malkin find a way to transcend their seemingly hopeless matchups – or their linemates decide to finally bury the occasional golden opportunities set up by the dynamic duo – then whatever struggles (perceived or legitimate) will wash away in the boozy suds of the Stanley Cup. There’s that fear that maybe the two will assume that, after getting here two years in a row at such a young age, that they’ll make it to this stage again someday. All they need to do is ask Jaromir Jagr if that’s a safe assumption.

It might not matter if the Penguins play “with desperation.” The Red Wings are an incredible collection of talent and are nearly unbeatable at home. Few could doubt Crosby’s hustle, Malkin’s two-way genius and creativity. Those factors still haven’t added up to much for the Penguins in Hockeytown.

But one night can change everything. Or nothing.

What’s it going to be, eh?

Assessing Game 6 through a haze of cold medicine

June 10, 2009

When I had an internship, I developed a cough/flu/cold so hardcore and persistent that – instead of trying to find a way to cure it – I might as well have spent that time finding the perfect slasher movie comparison. While it did get gradually weaker as time went on, it didn’t have a weird fixation with impaling people (exit Michael Myers), sleep made it slightly weaker (sorry, Freddie) and had nothing to do with summer camp (so long Jason).

Eventually, I’ve settled on calling it a “Terminator” cough.

Regardless, ever since that happened, my immune system has been kind of like Pierre Turgeon after Dale Hunter‘s brutal, douche-bag late hit. At times it can be effective, but you know it will never be the same.

ANYWAY, being sick really reduced my stress level during a finish that normally would have sent me into cardiac arrest. Ultimately, the Penguins deserved to win this game, even if the ending was truly terrifying.

Now, let’s delve into the customary stream of puck consciousness.

Does anyone get the vague feeling that Detroit thinks they can just flick on a light switch in this series?

It’s obvious that there are a lot of things that come easier to the Red Wings – particularly transitioning from their zone through the neutral zone – but their elbow grease level seems somewhat inconsistent. At least on the road, that is.

It’s too bad that “Cycle like Staal-Kennedy-Cooke” doesn’t really roll off the tongue, because I’ve grown quite fond of that line.

Even when they don’t score, their rough and gritty cycle game can build momentum, wear down Detroit’s D and draw penalties. It seems like that line really made Nicklas Lidstrom‘s life miserable tonight.

One of the big stories of the series is Detroit’s matchup against Sidney Crosby. It’s a shame that Dan Bylsma has to react to what the Red Wings are doing even when the Pens have the last change, but when it’s clear that Detroit can shut down the Penguins’ top line it’s just a painful fact of life. The bottom line is that the Penguins need Crosby to produce if they have any prayer in Game 7.

Evgeni Malkin needs a finisher. Ruslan Fedetenko played that role nicely, but he’s missed a few golden opportunities in the SCF and it might be time to see if Petr Sykora can rekindle the chemistry he had with Geno in the talented Russian’s first two years in the league.

It’s crazy how far the Penguins have come with questionable talent on the wings.

It’s always nice to have a guy who “you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.” Matt Cooke is the number one guy, but Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik also deliver some real bone crunching hits. This is the most physically tenacious Penguins team I’ve been able to watch.

Chris Osgood was incredible in Game 6.

Even though Henrik Zetterberg has displayed an amazing all-around game and Johan Franzen has been a stunning goal-scoring machine, Ozzie is the only Red Wing I can accept winning the Smythe over Malkin/Crosby. Even if he’s a smarmy, Smurfy looking douche.

There have been quite a few moments in this series – for both teams – that made me think “clutch and grab.”I know that’s “playoff hockey” but maybe there’s still some cause for concern.

The officiating hasn’t been great, but I guess I’ll take “letting the players decide it” over NBA-style zebra intervention. Still, the league needs to stand its ground on holding and interference. Let the stars be stars.

I understand the Ducks-Devils parallels, although the are some pretty enormous differences.

NJ/Anaheim featured teams with star … goaltenders. In markets that aren’t necessarily the most hockey crazed. On the other hand, Detroit is the marquee franchise for American hockey and the Penguins have two of the biggest stars in the league.

Hopefully, the biggest difference will be that the home ice advantage will be broken.

Test your might

June 6, 2009

(Note: make sure to check out Joe’s take from earlier today)

There is a lot of back-patting going on among Pittsburgh fans and I understand that. Thursday night’s win was, almost certainly, the greatest Penguins win since Mario‘s gravy days.

Still, the challenge ahead reminds me of “Mortal Kombat.” You feel really good about yourself as you climb the ranks, upper-cutting your opponents onto spikes and ripping their hearts out. The wise digi-warriors know, though, that the worst is yet to come. Consider winning a third game beating Goro and winning the Cup taking down Shao Khan. Any MK veteran will tell you that beating Goro (or Motaro or whatever weird beast that serves as the second-to-last battle) is way, WAY more difficult than beating Johnny Cage and the game’s other cupcakes.

So put on your crazy Raiden hats, it’s time to harpoon some random thoughts going into Game 5.

  • Hopefully I’m not alone in this, but the probable return of Pavel Datsyuk makes me extremely nervous. Even at 70 percent (or whatever arbitrary percentage you attach to his relative health), he’s horrifying. Let’s hope he doesn’t create a Willis Reed moment.
  • My friend and I were watching what should have been the last game of Michael Jordan‘s career (you may remember it as the Chicago Bulls’ Game 6 NBA Finals winner against the Utah Jazz, a game in which Jordan got away with a push-off and subsequently broke thousands, if not millions, of Mormon hearts in the process) on ESPN Classic the other day. Bob Costas was talking about how Jordan was coming back to the pack. Costas didn’t mean that Jordan wasn’t the best – just that he was no longer stupidly better than everyone else.

Watching Nicklas Lidstrom makes me think of this description. Lidstrom is still – clearly – the best defenseman in the NHL. He’s still very scary. That being said, his dominance is now even more subtle than before.

(Then again, he could just be saving his best for last.)

  • One of the stories the MSM flogged to death after Game 4 was Henrik Zetterberg‘s fatigue in trying to shadow Sidney Crosby.

It got me thinking: should the Red Wings consider giving Geno Malkin the suffocation treatment instead of Crosby? Malkin already has seven points in four games and just seems to get stronger and stronger. Granted, Malkin’s size might make matchups pointless for opponents, but it is odd that we hear all that about stopping Crosby but receive very little information about who’s lining up against the Pens’ Hart trophy candidate.

  • One thing’s for sure: it’s pretty much impossible for Penguins fans to detach themselves at this point. Pittsburgh proved they belong in the first four games and so now we reach a point of no return. If they lose, it will hurt. Bad.

Thoughts on the big win for the Penguins (and the NHL)

June 5, 2009

It just seemed … fitting.

The Red Wings were up 2-1 with a second consecutive powerplay. For a while, the game seemed like it would be Geno Malkin vs. the Detroit Red Wings. As superhuman as Malkin was playing, it was obvious someone else would have to step up.

All of a sudden, Jordan Staal muscled the smaller Brian Rafalski and scored a spectacular shorthanded goal. Easily the biggest of his career. After fighting through Red Wing checks and cycling hard enough to make Lance Armstrong proud through the playoffs, Staal received a rare reward for his rugged, determined play.

Then the floodgates opened. Despite a nice pass block, Malkin second chanced it to Sidney Crosby who got that SCF “Outbreak” monkey off his back with what would ultimately be the game winning goal.

With an uncharacteristically flustered Red Wings team on their heels, the Penguins did their NBA Finals impression with a display of passing that would make Dean Smith ejaculate into his Dockers. The tic-tac-toe play resulted in a gorgeous Tyler Kennedy goal and the game was effectively over at 4-2.

This was, almost certainly, the greatest single period in the short history of the Crosby-Malkin connection. If the Penguins beat the odds and raise the Stanley Cup, pundits will point to that three goal explosion as the turning point of the series. If not, it will be a nice bookend to Marc Andre Fleury‘s miraculous Game 5 performance last year.

Some scattershot musings from the game:

  • For my money, Johan Franzen is currently the most dangerous Red Wing. Watching him amble toward the net feels like rooting for a woman trying to escape Michael Myers (even though he walks faster than she runs). Please, Fleury, DO NOT go up the stairs/inspect that loud noise outside your house.

  • I expected a lot more from the Red Wings in that third period. Naturally, there were some tense moments but it was actually a lot more serene than expected. Do the Red Wings simply feel that they can win every game at home? Could it be a matter of arrogance?
  • Fleury really bounced back admirably at home. He played fantastically in Game 4 and also saved Game 3 in the second period. Detroit is going to be pissed in Game 5, though, so this is just the beginning for Flower. It might be getting close to the right time to start sanding down those goat horns, though.
  • Now, I’m no Red Wings expert. But I have to admit that I found the scratching of Abdelkader (or AfroGator) quite perplexing. One Red Wing who actually seems to age like a human is Kris Draper (although he’ll be a bigger factor in Joe Louis Arena, where his world class faceoff abilities could make a difference).

  • With the notably low amount of powerplay opportunities, Tomas Holmstrom‘s impact has been quite minimal. Still, he’s probably the best at what he does and could make a difference as these games become more contentious.
  • Henrik Zetterberg seems like he’s really picked his game up in Pittsburgh. Marian Hossa might not be putting up points, but he really scares the shit out of me. (He’s not worth ruining the Red Wings’ cap space, though, IMO.)
  • Speaking of Hossa, Pens fans need to decide if they are going to boo him once and for all. They sound wishy-washy and it comes off as pathetic. Then again, even if it has nothing to do with his struggles, Hossa has been pretty quiet so maybe they should keep doing what they’re doing.

  • I discussed this on Twitter, but the “OS-GOOD” chant started a bit early. I’ve always felt that goalie mockery should come in blow outs, not games that are still to be decided. You don’t want to give a goalie more motivation, you want to kick him when he’s down. Right?
  • The Red Wings must lead the league in defensemen who can keep the puck in the zone under duress. That shit’s really going to stress me out going forward.
  • Special teams has been ENORMOUS in this series so far.

Just look at the Game-by-Game breakdown:

Pittsburgh: 1 for 3 (Game 4); 2 for 3 (Game 3); 1 for 1 (Game 2); 0 for 2 (Game 1)
1 SHG (Game 4)

Detroit: 0 for 4 (Game 4); 1 of 2 (Game 3); 0 for 2 (Game 2); 0 for 1 (Game 1)

With such a tiny sample, you can really have fun with stats that probably won’t even hold up by the next game. For instance:

The Penguins penalty kill has tied the Red Wings Powerplay.
The Penguins powerplay has scored in all but one SCF game; the Red Wings Powerplay has only scored in one SCF game.

The bottom line, though, is that the Pens went 4 for 9 and the Red Wings went 1 for 9 with a SHG allowed. Going into this series, I figured the Pens would have a slight special teams advantage. So far, though, it’s been a gigantic advantage.

  • This might be from the Department of the Painfully Obvious, but the Penguins’ best chance to win one on the road is probably in Game 5. I don’t buy into the Red Wings being “worn down” when they are a deeper team. Pavel Datsyuk might enter the building by Game 5 or 6 (or 7 or never), which would be a big boost.

Now, I’m an excessively negative fellow. But this is honestly the first time in this series that I think the Penguins could actually pull this one out. The Red Wings might be the better team, but the Penguins might want it more.

Chances are, though, that we’ll find out a lot about both teams in the next 2-3 games.

I’ll guarantee one winner after tonight:

The NHL, silly.

Game 4 Gumbo

June 4, 2009
Credit: On Frozen Blog

Some scattered thoughts/links/musings as we await what could be a very interesting Game 4:

1. I read somewhere that Chris Osgood lost some Conn Smythe thunder to Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. This got me thinking, though: if the Penguins push this series to 6 or 7 games, could Geno Malkin be the logical choice even if Pittsburgh loses? The Red Wings score/win by committee approach hurts individuals and Malkin’s point production already ranks him among the most volatile scorers in playoff history.

Seems worthy of consideration, I’d say.

2. This clip has been embedded on numerous hockey blogs already, but it’s funny so why not:

3. Note to blogs out there: if you come up with something this clever and it’s Miracle on Ice related, you’ll probably get linked here. Fantastic stuff from On Frozen Blog.

4. Ray Bug Eatin’ Emery to Philadelphia? Am I DREAMING?

5. While I think Jacques Martin did a good job in Ottawa, he obviously continued a long tradition of idiocy in Ratland. Interesting piece from Litter Box Cats on Martin’s less-than-sterling system in Florida.

6. Scotty Hockey, one of our favorite bloggers, provided some great coverage that made me want to visit Pittsburgh. Quite a few posts to check out from his trip, particularly his Game 3 thoughts.

(Note: there’s a chance I might add to this post or put together one more pre-game/instant analysis post today so keep your eyes peeled kids. Also, I’m going to start getting some really fun stuff together for the draft [hopefully] so business should pick up soon.)

Almost time to panic, but not quite

June 2, 2009

I’ll be honest, my only real exposure to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was half-watching the movie in a drunken stupor. (It seemed OK … Mos Def is amusing and it has pre-Jim/protoJim/Tim from the British Office in it.) Let’s face it, though, it’s the first thing that came up in a Google Image search.

ANNNNYWAY, with the SCF under way (and Jesus lord let’s hope it’s not halfway done) and the NBA Finals about to start, it dawned on me that I’m pretty fucked in about two weeks. Baseball is not my sport, unless I’m drunk in the shade with an avalanche of peanut shells at my feet. The shade at home doesn’t count.

(Shit, maybe I might need to panic, not the Penguins.)

Just to illustrate the depth of badness, I watched “About Last Night” because there was nothing better on my X-Box Netflix queue. Even though my hatred for Jim Belushi rages beyond Chris Osgoodian proportions.

Good God I can’t believe I watched this movie.

(To be fair, there was a shocking amount of pre-ruined by Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore boobs in that movie. Remember kids: small boobs need love too.)

So, the Penguins are in a lot of trouble right now. Being down 0-2 to Detroit is a problem. I’d compare the difference between overcoming the Red Wings versus the Capitals as the jump from hopping a suburban fence to scaling the Great Wall of China.

(Sorry, 80’s movies breed hyperbole. Re-read that sentence as “the Red Wings are tougher than the Capitals”, please.)

This post really isn’t going anywhere, so I’ll leave you with two goats and two semi-heroes.

(For the Penguins, that is.)

From far away that foot behind that goat looks like something … else. Don’t judge me.

Goat #1: Marc Andre Fleury

Sorry, he’s been awful.

Goat #2: Bill Guerin

For some reason, I constantly overreact to Guerin’s struggles. Maybe it’s his “Just for Men” beard. Either way, he had two wide open chances you have to bury and he came up dry. Dammit, Bill.

Semi-Hero #1: Jordan Staal

In true Jordan Staal fashion, he’s been awesome without putting up any points. Joe and I have discussed the fact that the Penguins might be better off spending $4 million on a winger, but I must admit the last two and a half rounds have made me feel better. Staal might not have his elder brother’s finishing touch, but he’s shown some serious balls. He might just be a gamer going forward.

(Besides, he won’t “fail to earn” his contract until next year. Right now, he’s a genuine bargain.)

Semi-Hero #2: Rob Scuderi

It’s going to be hard to stomach watching Brooks Orpik cough up pucks at $3.7 million next year if it means that the Penguins cannot retain Scuderi. While playing against Detroit hasn’t made him look qute so impressive, he’s still the kind of defensive defenseman the Penguins need to be competitive.

Let’s hope they can sign him to a reasonable deal.

Instant (and brief) analysis

May 31, 2009
  • Naturally, this might stem from my Penguins fanboy status … but I think the Penguins generally outplayed the Red Wings tonight. Especially in the second period.

Obviously, Pittsburgh was pulverized in the faceoff circle (not surprising since the Penguins are below average in that area while Detroit is THE faceoff team), but overall it seemed to me they carried the play during long stretches of the game.

  • During the first half of the game, I braced myself for penalty whining. The Penguins did, indeed, get away with some penalties (particularly on Evgeni Malkin‘s failed breakaway).

Still, the no-call on Henrik Zetterberg (who, when looking through black-and-gold colored glasses, clearly closed his hand on the puck) should more than make up for whatever other discrepancies.

  • Chris Kunitz was a force on the forecheck. Darren Helm is a star in the making. If Niklas Kronwall was an NFL team, he’d be the San Diego Chargers. (Seriously, do officials need to wait until he injures Malkin while leaving his feet before they finally call a charge on him? Pens fans were [rightly] complaining about this last year.)
  • Marc Andre Fleury wasn’t awful but he still needs to be better for the Penguins to win this series. In broken play situations, he seems to go flat to the ice surface far too easily, giving up a ton of net in the process. That, and his penchant for playing the puck poorly, are two potentially fatal flaws in his game.
  • The Penguins will probably find themselves in the same 0-2 hole as last year, but what’s more frustrating is that for at least one game, the Pens seemed like they belonged this year. As a fan, though, that almost makes this loss tougher to swallow.

No, it definitely makes it harder to deal with.


Dissecting the most interesting/obnoxious Cup Finals storylines

May 30, 2009

Update: Check out this very interesting (and odd) SCF preview from Alexander Dubcek.

Let’s take a look at the big storylines of this Finals re-match.


Somehow this was the only Pensblog Hossa Photoshop I could find. Arrrrrgh.

Anyone who discounts this as “just a media creation” is totally nuts. When a free agent signing causes people to create Two-Face Photoshops, there is obviously plenty of relevance to the situation.

However, I’m one of those Penguins fans who was happy to see him leave (although strictly from a salary cap stand point). Simply put, Hoser is a great player who is not worth $7 million. We can gnash our teeth debating that point, but there are only a few players who can justify a cap-busting contract. Can you say that Crosby-Malkin-Hossa would be worth having awful depth for the next five years?

Surely, the guy’s face kind of pisses me off. Will I scream to the heavens if Brooks Orpik knocks the shit out of him in the slot? Absolutely.

But Hossa didn’t come to Pittsburgh by choice, he was traded there. People act like Hossa was a long time teammate but he came to the team toward the end of the season, barely played any regular season games and then had a fantastic run in the post-season. It was great to see Sidney Crosby have a great winger for once, but let’s face it: losing Ryan Malone was more of an “emotional” blow than Hossa ever was.

The Penguins: favorites???

Going in to the series, it seemed obvious to me that the Red Wings should be the favorite.

1. They have home ice

2. Let’s face it, they fucking creamed the Penguins last year.

3. Don’t forget, Johan Franzen wasn’t healthy for much of the SCF. So the Red Wings basically are going into this series with the team that beat Pittsburgh plus Marian Hossa AND Johan Franzen.

Yet, a surprising amount of people are predicting the Penguins. I will root relentlessly for Pittsburgh and be depressed if they lose, but if I had to put my (future, imaginary, candy-based) house on the line my pick would be the Red Wings. (Sigh)

Chris Osgood

Penguins fans really don’t like Osgood. I’m on record for calling him a queef.

That being said, watching NHL on the Fly’s press conference coverage Friday night made me realize that Osgood probably has to answer the same goddamn tired questions over and over and over again. Seriously, if you were him, wouldn’t you start douching every one just out of the monotony of the “are you the weak link?” line of questioning?

Jesus I better stop or I’ll start empathizing with the Keebler Elf/non-Blue Smurf looking motherfucker.

(Oh, and PLEASE stop calling him a Hall of Famer. If you barely hold onto a starting goaltending job against Ty fucking Conklin, you’re not worthy of being in the HoF. Sorry, brah.)

The Health Factor

One of the bullet points MSM members have been using is the relative “health advantage” the Penguins have going into this series. I find this to be a heavily overrated idea.

Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t 100 percent but Sergei Gonchar is pretty banged up too. The Hurricanes weren’t able to take advantage of Gonchar’s bum knee, but it was obvious that the Russian veteran couldn’t skate quite as swiftly in a few odd man rush/broken play situations.

Obviously, the Red Wings have some depth guys who are banged up, but teams that make it this deep into the playoffs are almost inevitably beat up. Considering the fact that the Penguin vigorously block shots, we can assume they have some guys playing hurt too.

Don’t get me wrong, the Penguins might be a bit healthier but it’s a tremendously exaggerated advantage.

Star Power

After watching almost every second of the Penguins’ playoff run, I can say that the Penguins have some nice support players who show the ability to maintain a high level of play throughout a game. That being said, when it comes to scoring goals, the team is highly dependent on their two super-duper-stars.

In the salary cap era, that is far from shocking. But the Red Wings can go into this series thinking “if we can hold Malkin-Crosby to a draw, we have a bunch of depth players who can steal a game.”

Hopefully, Sid and Geno have shown skeptical hockey fans that they are worthy of the immense hype they’ve received. Annoying message board people will never go away unless they win a Cup, but the Penguins showed me plenty. Even if they have to settle for the Prince of Wales trophy for a second straight year.

Sadly, Red Wings have defense and team play like no team the Penguins have seen in the playoffs.