If you’re anything like me, you went into this game with tunnel vision, determined to send all your positive vibes in the right direction. You drove to the sports bar, sat watching commercials or finished you dinner before the game with a seriousness unlike any other.
Game 1 was the past and there was no way the Wings would gain a 2-0 series lead for the second straight year. Not if you had anything to say about it.
Chris Osgood would be exposed. Sidney Crosby would break out and score. Marc-Andre Fleury would shut the wings down, proving he is the type of goalie that can steal games in pressure situations.
Then the game started. The Pens were being outplayed. Shots were 7-2 and, defying all odds and predictions, the older Detroit Red Wings appeared to have more energy.
Slowly a few good shifts turned in to controlling play for Pittsburgh. Things were looking up. Power play. Geno Malkin throws the puck to the net … scramble … the puck pops back out and he fires it again … scramble … own goal. The breaks, it seems, are going our way.
The second period starts. Then this happens …
and then this …
So we’re two periods in and down 2-1, again. All Pens fans thought, ‘We were here last night in the same position. There’s no way our boys let it happen again. Not tonight. Not this year. We’re going home tied 1-1 baby!’
Then this happens …
Fleury allows his first soft goal of the series and it’s over.
What else can you do. ThePensBlog.com noted this and I have to admit I was thinking the same thing after that third goal went in. This isn’t real hockey. It’s like we’re watching the old NHL all over again.
Remember last year, feeling like the Red Wings had the man-advantage for the entire game? It was like they were everywhere on the ice all the time.
There’s a reason for that people. They’re doing the same old crap as last year, but no calls are being made. Goal No. 1 was freed up because of obstruction. There were countless other interference calls that could have been made and weren’t.
Goal No. 2 was made possible because of Malkin taking out a Red Wing in the crease, which unfortunately made contact with Fleury and opened up the entire side of the net.
Oh yea, and Hossa slahed Pascal Dupuis’ stick in half to free up space.
Nevertheless, that backhander was sick.
Abdsdnjka[‘s goal was a softy and really put the Pens out of position to come back. But if you’re blaming Fleury at all in this series you’re missing the reality of each game.
At the core of Detroit’s system is the ability to manipulate the game, treading the line of what will and won’t be called. These guys have been around enough to test the officials and know what they can and can’t do.
Alot of what they are doing should be interference. They aren’t controlling Crosby and Malkin because they are a great defensive team. The Wings are talented defensively, there’s no doubt, but they run interference nearly every time either of those guys are on the ice.
Remember in the Washington series, falling down 2-0? Do you remember why?
The Capitals did much of the same thing. Several goals were made possible because of running subtle interference off of faceoffs.
The only time the Pens have looked like the lesser of two teams all postseason is because of uncalled obstruction. Detroit is no different.
Now I hate blaming officiating. I can tell when something I’m writing is whiny, and there’s no doubt that much of what I just wrote can be considered as such. The thing is, though, that we’re now two games away from elimination. Every inch of the game brings you closer to the end or closer to the prize.
Thus far, the lack of whistles blowing has brought us nearer to the end … again.
We’ve been here before, folks. Last year, down 2-0 … lost 4-2. This year (to Washington), down 2-0, won 4-3.
The similarities are there when comparing the Washington series to this one. The obstruction went down after Game 2 as the referees began to catch on.
Let’s hope the same thing happens tomorrow night. If not, it’s another long summer of wondering what could have been.
When I got home from the game, I knew I couldn’t immediately write a blog post because my emotions were at an all-time high. I always write my thoughts down after a game. This is what I came up with, word for word …
- Detroit is not Washington. The Penguins beat a good defensive team in Philadelphia and an outstanding offensive team in Washington. The difference here is that the Red Wings are the best of both worlds. Coming back and winning 4-of-5 is nearly impossible.
- Chris Osgood is not that good. He has so much help from a well-understood system and near-perfect execution that he is forced to do very little. It aides his performance, night in and night out. If you put Osgood in any other system on any other team, we’re not talking Hall of Fame.
- Why do the Penguins forecheck anyone? Once the puck gets passed the first guy, it’s smooth sailing into our zone. There’s too big of a cushion allowed to the offensive attack at the blue line. Makes no sense.
- Jordan Staal is the most frustrating hockey player in the world.
- Why did Bylsma choose to dress Pascal Dupuis over Petr Sykora? I think Duper played well, but we all know the offensive potential and clutch performing Sykora can give you, especially in the playoffs.
- Why have all of the Pens’ defensemen been choosing to play the body so much, rather than the puck? It seemed like we were making outstanding stick plays every night. Now, it appears the defense is so worried about the forwards of Detroit and are trying too hard to fend them off. Hal Gill had the puck in his skates with ample time to play the puck a couple of times, but chose to body-off oncomers. He’s not the only one.
- This series is over. Kill me now.
These are the responses we got from some of our readers on our facebook page … The first one was our status.
Losing faith. Thus, not making a post until later tomorrow so we can sleep on this whole mess. If Geno is suspended, yet Ovechkin continued to play after cheap-shotting Gonchar, I’m boycotting this league. It’s almost to the point of insanity.
DON’T GIVE UP! WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT!
Don’t give up!
The Red Wings are going to have one PISSED OFF Russian to deal with on Tuesday.
Luck runs out.
and that is basically what the Wings have been running on.
Come on, two for sure goals ringing off the INSIDE of the post. Having one of your teammates sit on the goaltender for a wide open net, and not get called?
No suspension. Here’s how I look at it–remember the Caps series. Also, look at the stats sheet: just about dead evn in every category. pens picked it up on the face-offs from Game 1 (27 wins, 24 losses for 53%) up from 29%. Wings dropped from 71% to 47%. Powerplay–the one we had, we scored (100% improvement). At this stage with all things equal, … Read Moreit comes down to goaltending. Fleury has not been as sharp, and Osgood has been about as insanely unstoppable as the phenom Varlamov. Still, we had Ozzy looking over his shoulder on more than a couple of occasions. Not sure yet how I feel about the refs swallowing their whistles as much as they have…and then spitting them out again in time to make a stupid call in the Malkin-Zetterberg dust-up. Don’t panic, don’t lose faith. At home, we get last change and the match-ups we want. Fleury will bounce back. We’ll crack Ozzy.
Syd and Geno will be ticked and they will walk into the arena knowing they are going to win, don’t worry. We have to keep the faith everyone! We are PENS fans for crying out loud. SCREEM….. I AM A PENS FAN AND WE ARE GOING TO WIN THE STANLY CUP!!! I did, I feel better. Now you do it!
Don’t get too down on your team. They’ve played well, but Wings got some luck. Losing to the Wings at the Joe isn’t unexpected, but it should be different when they reconvene at Mellon.
Our readers kick ass. Thanks everyone!!!