Big Lead Sports Bar




At first, I thought I had mistakenly wandered into the Bill Murray-inhabited world of Groundhog Day when reflecting on Game Two of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, because the script sounded awfully familiar. 3-1 final? Check. Red Wings win? Check. Refs swallowing their whistles? Check. Penguins squandering a lot of opportunities and once again getting a Dennis Green "We let 'em off the hook" speech after the game? Check. Someone cue "I Got You Babe" (you'd have to see the movie to get that joke).

When the highlight of an evening is Evgeni Malkin losing his mind on Henrik Zetterberg and tempting the fate of a suspension as per the NHL rules, that's usually not a good sign. And in typical NHL fashion, they somehow tossed out the automatic suspension The Incredible Malk was scheduled to receive, much to the delight of Penguin fans around the globe.

I guess dodging that bullet was one good thing the Pens can take from their pilgrimage to Detroit, because they certainly came home empty-handed otherwise. Sure, the statistical breakdown after two games looks better on paper this year. But stats alone don't win championships. Wins win championships.

So much for the theory that banged-up Detroit, missing players like Pavel Datsyuk while being forced to play on back-to-back nights, would pay dearly for the NBC-mandated scheduling. But think about the Penguins' Detroit experience for a minute. There were three outcomes possible, and you would've gladly taken two of them: a 2-0 Pens lead or a split. I don't know how many of you considered the possibility of leaving Detroit down 0-2, because I certainly did not.

The early lead for top scapegoat so far is Marc-Andre Fleury, which is unfortunate. He's getting blame heaped on his shoulders, and while he deserves some level of criticism for play that has not equalled Chris Osgood's, he's only supposed to block the puck, not put it in the net. Two goals in two games does not usually equal two wins. As we all know, the Pens are getting chances, but hitting the post or missing wide does not register on the scoreboard.

The series now moves back to the Steel City, for the mind-boggling third game in four nights. Only in the NHL! Storylines, they are a-plenty. There's the Hossa homecoming angle. How will he be received? Will he break another Penguin player's stick while the refs look on in silent awe? And most importantly, which Penguin fan in attendance will be the most creative with his 2007-08 Hossa jersey?

There's also the publicity-hungry and media-savvy Pittsburgh seafood vendors, who are already lining up plans to abuse octopi in the name of hockey: (as per their press release)
Benkovitz To Pens Fans: Come Help Us Trash the Octopus

Smash it with a mallet. Puree it in a blender. Whack it like a pinata. Beat it with a stick. Benkovitz Seafoods is inviting Penguins fans to join in “trashing the octopus” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.

“We’re gonna give Detroit fans a preview of what’s gonna happen to the Red Wings when they hit the ice in Pittsburgh,” said Benkovitz General Manager Horacio Ruiz, referring to the first home game of the Stanley Cup Finals later that night.

Fans also are invited to compete for prizes in an “Octopus Shoot Off” – three shots at a goalie standing in for the Redwings, using an octopus for a puck.

Benkovitz is serving octopus throughout the playoffs, grilled, steamed or in sushi. “Diced, sliced and chopped up, that’s what we’ll do to the octopus,” said Ruiz.

As for Red Wings fans, Benkovitz is enforcing the ‘Burgh’s “No Octopus to Wingnuts” rule, refusing to sell an octopus to fans with Motor-City-area identification.

Benkovitz, at 23rd and Smallman streets in the Strip District, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. till 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. For details, call (412) 263-3016 or 412-488-FISH. The company’s Website address is
Yeah, it sounds like a lot of fun. I'm sure the folks at PETA will be thrilled. Benkovitz was kinda late to the "no octopus for Detroit fans" party, but they're certainly trying to make amends this year.

But most importantly, the big storyline is the Penguins' ability to put the puck in the net. It's a rather essential skill in the game of hockey, one that they have mastered over the years. Yet for some reason, it has eluded them when facing off against the Red Wings. They certainly have the horses to hang with Detroit. It's a long race, but the Penguins are going to have to make a run pretty soon if they have any hopes of raising the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history.

Email: Twitter: Facebook: Facebook Group


Steve said...

Good teams make their own bounces. Maybe the Pens will get lucky and have someone "bounce" over Zetterberg's neck with a skate blade so they'll be forced to use only one goalie like other teams.

I'm already assigned to the fact that the Pens are losing this one in 5 or less. I just want to see a Red Wing die on the ice. Doesn't matter which one. I'll be happy enough if it has a beard and is Swedish.

How can any Pens player not go through the handshake line saying Fuck You over and over to every Red Wing. It's not going to hurt their feelings, since they're souless robots. Probably the only guality thing GM has made in decades.

Anonymous said...

Is it time to put Crosby and Malkin on the same line for the start of the game. The Red Wings shouldn't be able to double team both.

I hate to say it, but we almost need somebody to run Osgood or at least start playing like the Flyers late in that series, basically camping in the crease.

BURGH08 said...

A bit off topic, but these two games has helped me realize that you can be absolutely clueless about sports, yet still work in sports media here.

I heard Paul Alexander say several times on FSN that the Pens would win in six, and that "YOU" (read: Pens fans) 'won't have MAF as your whipping boy anymore'.

Of course, last night on KDKA, he said 'I'm sticking with my prediction of Pens in SEVEN'. Seven? I'm waiting for 'Pens in EIGHT' before the week is over from the racoon.

Of course, nothing tops Ron Cooks last three articles.

Saturday: "They won't be denied"...."Pens in six"

Sunday: "No worries....Pens still better"

Monday: "Pens can come back but only if..."

What? No worries right?

Unknown said...

Given the superior speed of Redwings offense versus the Penguins defense, why not take advantage of the whistle-less environment and start hooking and grabbing? Seems like the Pen's defense is only capable of back pedaling. Detroit players are given too much time and space.

Symo said...

Sorry, but Hossa didn't slash anybody....

Symo said...

Oh, the smashing octopus thingy is AWESOME, lol...

Unknown said...

I am feeling that same queasy feeling again...this sucks.

Steve said...

Hey Symo, Does the JLA take food stamps for hockey tix at the walkup window? Detroit residents might want to check into that.

Jeff_King_Fan said...

RELAX. we were down 0-2 before. granted the red wings are much better than the caps, but just breathe and take monday off. all detroit did was protect home ice. now its the pens turn. they'll get their opportunities and cash in this time. they are too good to screw it up three times in a row. no need to hate the red wings, MAF, or the media. just rest up and get ready for the comeback.

Steve said...

Maybe you're right, maybe we should save our hate for important things like Bin Laden, Light Beer and American Idol.

Naahhh, I'm gonna hate the Wings too. There's enough hate to go around. Death to the Wings and red-headed Swedes everywhere!

BURGH08 said...

I don't think you can buy Red Wing tickets with food stamps.

However, I did hear about their 'buy a ticket, get a free house' promotion.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I am still hopeful for a turnaround and if we lose, we lose. Look at where we were in February!

Got to get bodies to the net and hey, if they look like they are going to sneak one in, just have a skater lay down in the net and cover the puck, what's the worst that could happen?

We need a little more out of MAF and our 3rd and 4th lines if a comeback is going to be possible.

okel dokel said...

We especially need to learn how to do the "little interference" methods the Red Wings.

Although I like the two hits Orpik layed on Samuelsson...I think it was Orpik.

Steve - I'm with you I want to see one of the Swedes carried off the ice.

Toad268 said...

Ok, here is the problem, so there are a ton of people not only the fans, but the media complaining about the refs. What is going to happen is that we are going to start pulling the same crap as them next game and the refs are going to start calling them for it. We can't play that way.

They are interfering just like the Caps did in the first two games. The Pens brought it up and then in game three they got called on all of them. Remember the lopsided penalties called? Remember all the whining by the coaches of Washington? Can I say Deja Vu?