Big Lead Sports Bar

6/02/2008

BACKS, MEET WALL

Choose your cliche for tonight's critical Game Five..."must-win"..."backs against the wall"..."win or go home", "only focusing on this game"....any will do.

Max Talbot compared the Penguins' current situation to a Pee-Wee hockey tournament. Talking heads on the 11:30 Sunday night roundtable shows are comparing Evgeni Malkin to Jaromir Jagr...in the worst ways. SI's Allan Muir said even before Game Four that it will be over in five.

Yes, winning three in a row over the juggernaut also known as the Detroit Red Wings will be a monumental task. Not impossible, just monumental. Only six teams down 3-1 have even forced a Game Seven, and only one (the 1942 Maple Leafs, who were down 3-0 to the Red Wings) came back to win.

Aside from the one game that the Penguins won, they've scored 0, 0, and 1 goal in their three losses; that's not surprising, considering Detroit's notoriously stingy defense, which allowed a league-low 2.24 goals per game this season.

It's going to take at least two if not three goals to have any shot at victory tonight. But really, is that too much to ask, especially considering this squad? Hockey is a game of inches, and the Penguins are certainly due for a few bounces to go their way.

Detroit wants to end it tonight; they certainly don't want to have to come back to Pittsburgh, even though they skated off with a victory this weekend. A Penguin win tonight would invigorate "the room" and further fire up a home crowd that has taken the Mellon Arena decibel level to new heights.

Win or lose tonight, people have to keep this season in perspective. Honestly, did anyone expect this team to be in this spot already? Considering the adversity they faced in the regular season, it would be easy to imagine the Penguins not even making the playoffs. They lost Crosby, they lost Fleury, they lost scores of other players, there were calls for Michel Therrien's job, etc., etc., etc.

But players started getting healthy and Ray Shero pulled a few rabbits out of his hat at the trade deadline. All of a sudden, the Penguins were the hunter, not the hunted. They blew through the Eastern Conference with unexpected ease, raising our expectations for their performance in the Stanley Cup. So far, they've run into the only opponent that's given them any problems in the postseason. Whether they finish 1 or 2, they've given us much more than we ever could have expected this year. And the best part is that this core is just getting started.

4 comments:

Pocket Rockets said...

I don't buy the "put the season in perspective" rationalization. Did the Pens come together faster than I anticipated... indeed they did. I thought next year they would emerge as serious contenders. Did they overcome a rash of injuries... yes, with aplomb. But, now that they've made it to the final, I can't say that if they lose I'll still be satisfied with this season. There's no shame in losing in the Cup final, but just because the Pens are young doesn't mean they'll be in this position next year or the year after and so on. This is the year!

Koz said...

I agree with Mr. Pocket. At first it will be frustrating if it ends without a championship, but over time, you'll appreciate how much was accomplished.

However, in ten years, if another championship doesn't come around, it will be known as the one that gets away.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaay shoots and scores!!!"

Koz said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!