Big Lead Sports Bar

6/09/2009

60 MINUTES LEFT

PENGUINS 2
RED WINGS 1


For everyone who wanted to run Marc-Andre Fleury out of town after Game Five, I hope you were paying attention on Tuesday night. Because he was kinda vital to the Pens sticking around for a deciding Game Seven, don't you think?

The Pens' 24-year-old netminder stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced, including many of the jaw-dropping variety, in the Penguins' season-saving 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. His stop on Dan Cleary in the third period will be forever etched in his legacy. And his introduction as the game's First Star was redemption for a young man whose career has seen its fair share of roller-coaster moments.

If Fleury plans on sending any thank-you notes for assisting in his Game Six heroics, he should start with Rob Scuderi, who saved at least two goals from entering the net. Fleury should also thank Geno Malkin, who led the Penguins with four takeaways, as well as Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz, who clobbered the Red Wings for five hits each.

On a night when the Penguins lit the lamp two times, the offensive heroes were not Malkin and Crosby, but Jordan Staal, who scored the game's first goal, and Tyler Kennedy, who assisted on the first and scored the eventual game-winner at 5:35 of the third. Which shows that this team is capable of winning an elimination game when their top two sources of offense are held scoreless.

The biggest storyline on the Detroit end might be the total disappearance of Marian Hossa, who remained without a goal in this series and put just one shot on net, in addition to becoming the target of Mike Milbury's slings and arrows during the NBC postgame show. As far as Hossa's teammates go, neither Henrik Zetterberg nor Cleary could buy a goal, and as much as I hate to admit it, Chris Osgood was solid between the pipes, stopping Bill Guerin six times alone.

No matter what happens on Friday, we'll all look back on this night (coincidentally, the 25th anniversary of the Penguins drafting Mario Lemieux) with fond memories....just as soon as our nerves recover. I'm mentally drained, and I was just watching. I can't possibly imagine how beaten, bloodied, and bruised these players must be at this point in the season.

So let's talk Game Seven. It's the first Stanley Cup Game Seven in the Penguins' 42-year history. There's been 14 Game Sevens in NHL history, the last in 2006 when Carolina knocked off Edmonton, 3-1. Detroit's last appearance in one of these games dates back to 1955, when they defeated Toronto 3-1 behind Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio. Both Finals participants have played in a Game Seven this year: the Wings toppled Anaheim in the West Semis, 4-3, on May 14; the Pens blew out the Washington Capitals 6-2 a day before in the East Semis.

There will be much analysis and anticipation of what lies ahead. But for now, let's enjoy what we just witnessed and take our hats off to the tremendous effort shown by the never-say-die Penguins, who have once again risen from the ashes of a rough Game Five to force something that this city has never seen before.

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6 comments:

alex said...

Jordan Staal will have played in 13 Stanley Cup Finals' games before turning 21 years of age!

Thats gotta be close to, if not, the record.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

Outstanding performace from MAF! Need to carry it over to Friday, and need a few goals from 87 and 71 along the way. No time better than the present for Sid and Geno to have an offensive explosion.

Once again:
Dear EdZo,
You are as bad an analyst as you were a coach. Stop trying to point out every non call that doesn't go the Wings way while ignoring all of the junk they get away with. No comments on Osgood's mask "breaking" or Holmstrom high stick Talbot in the face huh?

LETS GO PENS!

nipsy3215 said...

I was really disappointed to hear McGuire/Edzo instantly chiming in on what they thought should have been a penalty shot when Scuds (Fleury) covered the puck. I don't recall hearing that when zetterberg did that twice earlier in the series.

Steve said...

McGuire and Olcyzk both need punched in their puny nut sacks with an iron fist.

Great game by Fleury but as always, it'd be nice if he can follow it up with something remotely as good the next game. We all know he has it in him to play great like that, problem is, he is inconsistent and I'll slam him as much as praise him until he proves he has what it takes to win it all.

Hopefully that will be Friday.

Jamie said...

Without a doubt, this has been one of the most amazing series I've had the pleasure of watching. We Pittsburgh fans are so lucky to be able to win a Super Bowl and possibly a Stanley Cup in a little more than a four month span.

It's good to be from Western PA and have the type of athletes we do to cheer for. Hoisting the cup in Detroit's house will be sweet.

Jeff_King_Fan said...

the better team ALWAYS win in a best of seven series. not just in hockey, but in the history of sports. there are plenty out there that think the red wings are the better team. if the pens win friday, they are clearly the NHL's best for the 2008-2009 season.