Penguins talking good game ... about Red Wings

Cam Cole
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Pittsburgh Penguins are not alone among National Hockey League teams in having their crest sewn into the dressing room carpet, nor are they the only team that warns visitors: "Please don't step on the logo."

It did occur to us on Tuesday, however, that perhaps the Pens should worry less about the media treading on their identity, and more about the Detroit Red Wings grinding it beneath their heels for the first two games of the Stanley Cup final.

Detroit Red Wings' defenceman Niklas Kronwall leads all defencemen in playoff scoring with 12 points. Detroit holds a 2-0 series lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final. Photo by The Associated Press

Pittsburgh - The Pittsburgh Penguins are not alone among National Hockey League teams in having their crest sewn into the dressing room carpet, nor are they the only team that warns visitors: "Please don't step on the logo."

It did occur to us on Tuesday, however, that perhaps the Pens should worry less about the media treading on their identity, and more about the Detroit Red Wings grinding it beneath their heels for the first two games of the Stanley Cup final.

A little sterner opposition to the actual authors of their 0-2 hole might be more helpful in reversing the tide of a series the Wings have dominated to date, and for which the Penguins have barely showed up.

"What are they worried about, that it's bad luck?" said a TV guy who accidentally stepped on the sacred cartoon Penguin. "Like, things are going to get worse? How?"

Fair question.

Not merely down two games, the Penguins haven't yet scored a goal, or even looked very much as though they might.

Evgeni Malkin is in a funk, Marian Hossa is wearing the same red-clad, five-man hair shirt as Sidney Crosby, and Marc-Andre Fleury has looked ordinary on more than a few Detroit goals.

"You have to give credit to the Red Wings. They played well in their building. It's a tough place to play," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien. "But we have all the reason in the world to be optimistic for Game No. 3. It's demanding to win on the road (and) we haven't lost a game in two months in our building.

The stats certainly bear him out.

Fleury has won 18 straight home games, dating back to last November.

The Penguins are 8-0 at home in the playoffs, and seem to take inspiration from the vibes in the old Igloo.

The problem with pinning all their hopes on The Seventh Man is that - to paraphrase Petr Klima, circa 1990 - you need a long stick to score from where the crowd sits. It's a lot to ask of people who don't skate or hit or stop pucks.

But we've reached that point at which all lopsided Stanley Cup finals begin to sound the same. There are no new speeches to be made or wheels to be reinvented. The team in the lead says it hasn't won anything yet. The losing team says it has to be better. Often, the blame gets laid at the feet of underachieving stars. Usually, the coach tries to direct attention away from his team's inadequacies by citing external factors, like refereeing.

Therrien's problem is that he has already shaken up his lines, with no effect, and it's too late to do an extreme makeover on his team's style of play.

What, then?

A colleague suggested that since the Penguins are 1-0 in outdoor games this year - having won the Winter Classic in Buffalo on New Year's Day - perhaps opening the retractable roof of Mellon Arena would do the trick.

Of course, then there wouldn't be a big scoreboard over centre ice.

"Not necessarily a bad thing," your agent said, when the scheme was floated to Pittsburgh veteran Gary Roberts.

"Oh, you guys are real funny today," he said.

Well, it beats crying.

Speaking of which, Therrien softened his post-Game 2 comments about the Wings' obstruction, saying they "do it the right way" - but remained critical of Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who drew two penalties Monday night, one of which was caused by contact he initiated.

"We've got to score those dirty goals, (where) you put the puck at the net and crash the net. But it's tough for us, because when we have someone in front of the net, like (Ryan) Malone yesterday, Osgood . . . if he's going to go at the players and fall down, it's tough to score those goals," Therrien said.

"And he's good at it.

"They're not outchancing us by a whole lot, to be honest," said Crosby. "But they capitalized on their chances, and we didn't.

"You feel like you're chasing the puck all night," Roberts said. "You use up so much energy trying to find the puck, that by the time you get it you're exhausted. But I don't want to give them too much credit. We can't be shell-shocked because we're playing a team that doesn't give us the puck. We've got to find a way to get the puck."

The Penguins know, without having to be told, that they are perched on the cliff's edge.

To come back on a team that has won its first two games at home is something only one team in history has done. Illogical as that sounds.

"You're going to hear this cliche: the third game is the most important in the series. And people would have told you (Monday) night that the second game was the most important," said Roberts.

"But obviously, if we go down 3-0 it's going to be tough sitting in here Thursday and telling you, 'I think we still have a chance.'

"We can't go down 3-0 against that team."

Organizations: Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League

Geographic location: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments