Kukla's Korner Hockey
The National Hockey League’s ‘dream match-up’ was a nightmare for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
It started badly enough when goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury fell face first as he made his customary pre-game sprint on to the ice, while veteran public address announcer Budd Lynch mistakenly called captain Sidney Crosby ‘Steven’ during the ceremonial faceoff.
But more importantly, the Penguins’ youth and inexperience caught up with them in a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, giving the Western Conference champions a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series.
From Eric McErlain at The Sporting News,
When the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins open up the Stanley Cup Finals tonight in Detroit, you couldn’t be blamed for forgetting which team has home-ice advantage. It’s hard not to find similarities between Detroit and Pittsburgh—two tough, blue-collar cities that love their NHL hockey—just ask Larry Murphy.
The Hall of fame defenseman has a skate in both camps this week. When I talked to him a couple of hours before the opening faceoff of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, he had to stifle a chuckle when he told me it was “scary” how many parallels there were between his experiences in the two cities.
Now working as a broadcaster for Fox Sports Net Detroit, HD Net and the NHL Network, Murphy was an integral part of four Stanley Cup winning teams: Two in Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992 and another two in Detroit in 1997 and 1998.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have reached a gentleman’s wager over the Stanley Cup series between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If Detroit wins, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will send Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick goodies from the Steel City, including Heinz Ketchup and Primanti Sandwiches. He will also ship Mayor Kilpatrick an octopus from Wholeys Fish Market. Dan Wholey, the market’s owner, made news this week when he said he would not sell octopi to any Red Wings fans during games in Pittsburgh.
If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup, Kilpatrick will send some of Motor City’s favorites such as Little Cesar’s Pizza Kits, Faygo Pop and a proclamation declaring Pittsburgh “America’s Hockey City,” according to a statement issued by Kilpatrick’s office.
Clearly, neither of these cities are going to prove themselves to be bastions of fine American cuisine…
Some questions for Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien today.
[Update 5:01pm ET: And for some thoughts from Sidney Crosby, you can check out his ESPN interview here.]
Q. Can you talk about the decision not to practice here yesterday and not to get on the ice here until today?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I’m not a big fan to change preparation, the way we do things. It’s always been like this. We’re not going to change because we’re in the Stanley Cup playoff.
Make sure to check out the work of the NHL.com writers and maybe a blogger too. There will be many updates to it throughout the SCF and some exclusive content too..
Visit the Stanley Cup Final 2008 Blog Page…
Steve Levy and Barry Melrose of ESPN report on the SCF from Joe Louis Arena.
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
The start of the Stanley Cup final most people will agree will be the hardest-fought and most exciting in recent memory is only hours away. On one side, at home in Detroit, a Red Wings team clearly blessed with experience. On the other, the Pittsburgh Penguins, losers of only two games in three series and armed with a maturity far beyond their years.
What’s not to like, eh?
They are, clearly, the two best teams in the league. Teams that deserve to be where they are, strong in every area from the nets outward. Everything points to a long series of either six or seven games, but no matter who wins, a word of caution: let’s not get carried away to the point of anointing the survivor the beginning of a dynasty.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Pittsburgh and Detroit, the two teams that struck the right balance between talent and toughness, have taken their rightful place in the Stanley Cup finals. The best-of-seven series begins tonight in Joe Louis Arena. The matchup is precisely what the NHL had in mind while coming out of its darkest era.
Ability or aggression? Why not have both? Both teams did and were superpowers during the regular season. Detroit won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the NHL’s best record. Pittsburgh finished second in the Eastern Conference even though it was without superstar center Sidney Crosby for 29 games.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The conventional wisdom is that, while the home team’s mandate is to hold serve by winning the first two games of a series, the visitors’ realistic objective is to win one of those two, thus positioning themselves to capture the series if they can win their home games.
“When you start on the road, you want to get at least one game,” center Max Talbot said.
Odds are that if the Penguins were offered a guarantee that they could take one victory out of the first two games, they would take it. Gladly.
Defenseman Hal Gill, however, believes they should aim for something more lofty, that the Penguins will be best-served if they enter the series committed to nothing less than carrying a 2-0 lead into Game 3 Wednesday at Mellon Arena.
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Will one obliterate the other?
Will it even make a dent?
Or will the objects bounce off one other, prompting the child to repeat the experiment?
Seven games, sweep either way or something in-between. No outcome would be a shock.
For all we know, Detroit could impose its system and hoard the puck and expose the Penguins as not-ready-for-prime-timers who rode great fortune to the final only to find they don’t yet belong on hockey’s biggest stage.
Or the Penguins could use their fresh, young legs to jump the Wings early and expose them as top-heavy, over-the-hill softies who were lucky the Dallas Stars were so fried by the time the Western Conference final commenced.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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