Game one of the Stanley Cup finals could not have turned out any more according to the expected script than it did. I fully expected the Wings to grind away with their best in the NHL puck control game until the Pens gave them a few chances to score. That is pretty much what happened.
What I did not expect was for the officials to swallow their whistles and let the teams play in game one. I really thought if the Pens were to have a chance, that they would have to score on power play opportunities, but unfortunately for them, they only had two chances and converted on neither.
Pittsburgh really tried to make a game of it coming back to tie at the end of the first period. Johan Franzen's goal at the end of the second period really seemed to take the wind out of the Pen's sails. Justin Abdelkader's goal at the start of the third set the tone for the remainder of the game. As the game wound down the Pens seemed to be without the same intensity that they had early in the contest.
As much as anything, I think Pittsburgh was out coached during game one. I think the Pens overcame the issues that had last season as far as preparation, but during the game, I think Babcock's Stanley Cup experience showed that he had been there before.
Last night prior to the game I tweeted about what a poor job NBC did with it's intro compared to the CBC. For those in the US who weren't geeky enough to be trying to watch both, here is a really good intro that is worth a look.
In spite of all the concern about back to back first games, I am thrilled that they are hitting the ice again tonight. Even though it is only the second game, this one is critical for the Pens. If they go down 0-2 against this Red Wings team I don't see how they can win four of the last five to win the cup. Detroit is too good at taking other teams out of their plan to let that happen.
I do think Pittsburgh has a chance tonight, just not a real good one. Detroit's first two goals in game one were from behind the net and off Fleury's pads. Pittsburgh was miserable in the face off circle at 29%. I doubt either of these points will be repeated tonight.
Just to add a little spice to tonight's contest, Sidney Crosby gave Kirk Malrby a little love tap after the game as seen below. Here's what Sid said about the incident when questioned in the post game:
Q. Kirk Maltby spoke after the game about the little incident or maybe run? in that you two had. He gave his side of it. I wondered if you can explain from your side what maybe occurred.
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, he was doing what he always does. You know, he was giving guys lip service and things like that. And you know, I two handed him on top of the foot there as we were skating by. So he felt like it was necessary to keep talking after the game, and I thought I'd whack him and that was it.
For a lengthy discussion of last nights game, Chris Wassel of The Program and I guested on SportsTalk Soup on BTR after the game and discussed all aspects of the game and what we expect for the rest of the series. Chris's regular version of his BTR show will be at the regular time at 7:00 CDT tonight with instant analysis of game 2.
For the sake of trying to have a lengthy series, I would like to see the Pens do better tonight, but I am still picking the Wings to win again tonight, possibly in a higher scoring contest. Chris has a game sim at The Program that is not too far from what I would expect.
I just realized today, that if this series goes to seven games, I may be at Walt Disney World in Orlando during game seven with little chance to see the game. I guess we will see what shakes out. Plans may have to be revised. Maybe the ESPN Zone at WDW will be the answer.
Stay Classey has Colin Wilson in their top ten rookies to watch next season.
Around the Hockey World...
The SCF wasn't the only game last night. Perhaps an even a better game took place in the AHL finals where Hershey beat Manitoba on the road in overtine by a score of 5-4. Alexandre Giroux had a hat trick, including the game winner deep in the first OT period. Game highlights can be found here. Game two will be in Manitoba on Tuesday.
Before Saturday's SCF Gary Bettman has his state of the game presser with a Q and A afterwards from a few hostile reporters. Here is the TSN story on the interview but it is worth the read to look at the entire interview posted here. Here is the NHL.com version of the presser story along with a video of Bettman on NHL OnTheFly before the game.
The Seventh Woman, Dee Karl, who I enjoy reading, has a good story about Sidney Crosby at the Hockey Barn.
For those bored with the on ice action, Ryan at the RLD takes a look at his top ten UFAs.
A quick note from Mick Kern at XM204, don't cut your nose off to spite your face. "Suckers"
Eric Smith puts a wrap on day two of the NHL Combine.
RedLineHockey has Tavares as #2 in a USA Today story.
More later... possibly...
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass
The Dallas Stars named Joe Nieuwendyk the new General Manager in a major shakeup announced Sunday afternoon. Brett Hull and Les Jackson were reassigned within the organization. A press conference is expected Monday.
Brian Metzer has his game two preview up. I follow him fairly closely as he seems to be in tune with what is going on with the Pens.
Heated Skates is up to # 20 in their draft preview. They have the Preds with Jordan Schroeder in the 11th slot. With all the picks the Preds have, I expect some movement on draft day depending on what is on the table. That was last year's strategy.