The Detroit Red Wings took a 1-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.
Pittsburgh made things interesting in the first period by holding the edge in play while the Wings got into penalty trouble.Â Then they just collapsed and Detroit picked up the pieces, starting with Chris Osgood’s stellar play.
12 shots for the Pens in the first. Just seven over the second and third. The much-vaunted Pittsburgh offense absolutely failed to show up tonight. Credit to the Detroit defense for bearing down and holding off what little attack the Pens did muster in the second and third. Granted, the Pens had some close calls and could have taken this game had they capitalized on some of their first period chances, but the fact is they didn’t capitalize and that’s what matters now.
I knew the Wings’ defense would present a challenge to the Pittsburgh offense, but I never dreamed they’d shut out guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa. Those three had eight of the Pens’ 19 shots, but I didn’t think any of them were exceptionally “on” tonight. Henrik Zetterberg alone had eight shots. It all stemmed from the fact that the Penguins just didn’t have the puck much. The Wings were great at forcing turnovers and at holding on to the puck when they had it.
Crosby and Hossa stood out in some ways, but Malkin stood out in others. The big Russian was awful, having apparently hit one of his cold patches.
On the waived-off goal: it was the right call. If you don’t believe me, read the rule:
Rule 69.4 – Contact Outside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
A goalkeeper is not â€œfair gameâ€ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. …
Tomas Holmstrom should know better than to get his stick on the goalie in that situation. He was not playing smart there. His high-sticking penalty earlier in the game was also not one of his better decisions. Fortunately, neither mistake cost the Wings the game.
I never would have picked Mikael Samuelsson as the hero of Game 1. He showed great opportunism on both of his goals, which came unassisted. Fleury should have had the first, but the blame rests on the shoulders of his teammates on Sammy’s second. That was some awful play there.
How often does Nick Lidstrom have two penalties in a game? The last time he even had four penalty minutes was January 19, 2007 against Columbus when he was assessed a double-minor for high sticking.
It was nice to see Dan Cleary finally get a goal. I think the absence of the chin shield will help his game a lot, if only because his mountain man beard will distract Fleury.
Niklas Kronwall continues to impress with his open-ice hitting ability. He’s having quite the post-season.
By sending out the top power play unit in the final minute, Babcock was sending a message to the Penguins, make no mistake about it. The fourth goal was a statement on two things: first, cheap shots like the Jarkko Ruutu slash/butt-end on Samuelsson will not be tolerated. Second, the Wings aren’t going to give the Pens breaks in this series.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk had strong defensive games, I thought, but their play in the other end was a tad lacking. Thankfully, the Wings’ secondary scoring came out to play tonight so it didn’t matter. Those two will probably have to be bigger offensive contributors in the next game, however. Granted, Hank’s eight shots were indicative of offensive involvement, but those two could have controlled play even more in the Pittsburgh end.
The third period was a strong defensive clinic by the Wings and not perhaps the most exciting hockey by some standards. To me, however, team skill and efficiency remains exciting because individualistic, pickup-style hockey is low-quality and undisciplined. I have no problem with quick and efficient puck movement replacing wide-open pond hockey of the sort we saw for various stretches of the first period.
It looks like Marc-Andre Fleury’s tumble coming out onto the ice before the game was not a good omen for the Penguins.
For Game 2, the Wings will need to be more careful about taking penalties. They really shot themselves in the foot there in the first period by taking four consecutive trips to the box. It threw off their game plan and much delayed their taking control of the game.
If they can stay out of the box, they’ll need to continue to carry the attack to the Penguins by picking up where they left off in the third period of Game 1 as far as puck possession is concerned. The Pens will be trying to find a way to rebound from their first real batch of adversity in this post-season and a fast start by Detroit in Game 2 coupled with smart puck possession will make that task very difficult.
Game 2 is going to be very interesting and decisive. If the Pens can come out and make it a game, we’ll have a series. If they can’t find a way to stop the unraveling that was made apparent by the Ruutu penalty, they’re in serious trouble. My guess is they’ll come out hard Monday night and the Wings will have to be ready to meet that charge with a hard one of their own.