Game 6: @ Pittsburgh, 8:00 ET

Tonight is the sixth game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit leads the series 3-2 with wins in Game 1 (4-0), Game 2 (3-0), and Game 4 (????????2-1). Pittsburgh won Game 3(3-2) and Game 5 (4-3 3OT).

Pittsburgh is on the brink of elimination once again and must find a way to force a Game 7. Some keys to the game for the Pens:

Build off Game 5. The Pens were widely outplayed for the bulk of Game 5. They did, however, have their moments that night. They need to build on those tonight and find a way to control things more.

Evgeni Malkin. I thought that Malkin, as obvious as it is that he’s enormously fatigued, looked better as the night went on in Game 5. The Pens need him to be strong tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury showed himself capable of stealing games and possibly the series Monday night. The Wings dominated Pittsburgh in every space on the ice except for the crease because Fleury was stellar. If he’s that way again tonight, good things will happen for Pittsburgh. Remember, he shut the Wings out for a full three periods Monday night.

I don’t anticipate any lineup changes for Pittsburgh tonight. Sergei Gonchar (back spasms) said he would play, though if he’s hurt, his effectiveness will be curtailed somewhat.

For the Wings, the only way this game could be more important is if it were being played on Saturday instead of Wednesday. In my mind, they face a must-win situation here because Game 7 will be a crapshoot at best. Some keys to the game for the Wings:

Be the storm. As I said before Game 5, the Wings need to start better. They didn’t do that Monday night and in the end it killed them. They have to bring the hammer down on the Pens early and then keep it there until that final buzzer.

Depth. I thought Jiri Hudler and Darren Helm were among the Wings’ best players Monday night. That has to be true again tonight. The Eurotwins will be getting a lot of attention in Mellon Arena and it will be the task of the depth players to do what they can to alleviate that pressure by peforming offensively.

Chris Osgood. I’m not going to follow the herd and call Osgood’s performance Monday night his worst of the playoffs. I thought he looked solid. He certainly gave the Wings the chance to win. He will need to be at his best tonight, however. He’ll need to match Fleury save-for-save and more.

The only lineup change I can foresee is a possible switching in of Chris Chelios for Andreas Lilja.

Tonight is not going to be a fun game, folks. It will take a gritty, gutsy effort from the Wings to pull a win out in the Igloo. It’s something they are fully capable of doing.

Filed under: 2007-2008, GameDay, Playoffs



  1. BDH says:

    I'm with you on not pilling on Osgood – he's been absolutely great since taking over as starter – but I do think game 5 was his worst. Statistically there are a few others that look as bad, but more than anything I thought he was shaky on a few saves and left rebounds he shouldn't have/didn't in other performances. That said, I have faith he tightens it up tonight and has a solid game.

    And I'm hoping we see Chelios instead of Lilja. I won't even get into performance or any of that, I just know that if the Wings are able to take the Cup tonight it will always bother me that Chelios will celebrate in street clothes or in uniform that he threw on a few minutes before the end of the game.

  2. Jason says:

    I think I'm with BDH on getting Chelios back into the lineup. Lilja hasn't played poorly by any means, but something tells me Chelios and his ancient Jedi mind tricks might make a difference out on the ice against a young Pens team as the pressure mounts on both sides. And I agree with Matt that Hudler needs another strong game, in particular because he can't let that high-sticking penalty get into his head. Huds and Helm have been huge in getting the Wings this far, and they'll show tonight why their name belongs on the Cup as much as the "big" guys on the top lines. But I'm really looking for Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Drake to take it to one more level tonight–they've all been stellar so far, but tonight I think they'll write their legends.

    As for Pittsburg, all the credit to them for hanging around long enough to win Game 5 for Fleury. But that's all they've really done all series is hang around just long enough. As our Mick would say, you can't keep going to that well. J.S. Giguere, Dwayne Roloson and Mikka Kiprusoff have shown us in recent Cup runs that you can only ride a hot goalie so far, and as good as Fleury was in Game 5, I doubt that performance made any of our guys in red see ghosts of recent playoff years past. If Pittsburg wants a Game 7, they're really going to have to be better as a team than Detroit tonight–no more just hanging around, waiting for the break. But from what I've seen so far, I don't think Pittsburg has much more in them.

    Still, it should be one for the ages.. let's hope the players can decide it, and not the referees. And for us Wings fans, let's hope the night ends with Captain Nick hoisting Lord Stanley!

  3. Ron Landrus says:

    I would like to see Chelios myself.

    I also wonder if we are a little spoiled by this marathon playoffs? I mean we are used to sweeps at htis time of year.


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