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Well, it wasn't as bad as Marc-Andre Fleury tripping before Game One last year, but the end result was equally as frustrating for Penguins fans: the team finds itself in an early hole after one game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Red Wings were able to parlay their home-ice-friendly boards into a 3-1 victory in the Land of Eminem, and because of Conan O'Brien, the Penguins have less than 24 hours to turn things around. That's a sentence I never anticipated writing in my lifetime. But if Yanni can mess with the 2009 NHL playoffs, then I guess Conan is at least a step up.

The epilogue to Game One will be a simple, two-word summary for the Penguins: missed opportunities. The Wings were banged up, they were playing without Pavel Datsyuk, and frankly, they were let off the hook numerous times by the Pens, who channeled their inner Dennis Green. If Geno Malkin scores on that second period breakaway, his dad hugs the closest blonde, the offense gathers a little steam, and the game takes on a whole new feel. Unfortunately, Malkin was far from the only Penguin to be denied by Chris Osgood, as Miroslav Satan, Chris Kunitz, and Bill Guerin, among others, can attest to. The guy seems to get a bum rap, but once again, Ossie outplayed his counterpart. There's a reason why he has three rings.

And while the result after one game is the same as it was in 2008, the mood has to be a little more upbeat this year for the Penguins. The quick turnaround is universally thought of as a plus for the young Pens, who are not nearly as banged up as the Wings. The Pens looked much more organized in this year's opener than last year's, but they still have some kinks to work out: they were beat 39-17 in faceoffs, they allowed Detroit to dictate play in front of the Pens' net, and they need to finish plays like they did in previous rounds. Easier said by a blogger than done, it's worth noting. This is a pretty good opponent they're up against.

If Game One offered any excitement to Pens fans other than the lone goal, it was the prevalence of hitting ripped right out of a Steeler highlight video. Brooks Orpik's leveling of Benedict Hossa in the first period, followed by Sidney Crosby crushing Henrik Zetterberg, had to provoke many a Yinzer into jumping out of their seat. And at game's end, I'm sure you caught the little love tap Sid sent to Kirk Maltby, which sets up some drama for this evening rather nicely:

So here we are, just a few hours away from what's become a must-win Game Two for Pittsburgh. If you've already lost faith, you're obviously unfamiliar with the route this team took to get this far. A 1-0 hole is by no means the end of the world. But let's hope the good guys can leave Detroit with at least one W. It would make their playoff lives a whole lot easier.

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BurressWithButterflywings said...

I look at these two games and I think to myself, what do we have to do to be at that level?

By that level, I mean knowing that a team is outplaying you in your own building but that luck is ultimately going to prevail because that is the case so far. The Pens can't get a bounce. We have outshot and out-chanced the Wings in each game.

Game 1, they get two lucky bounces for goals. Game 2 they get two BLATANT no calls that turned into goals.

I have never believed in the saying "I would rather be lucky than good", but I would love to be lucky AND good!

Steve said...
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