Monday, May 26, 2008

The Detroit Red Wings Are Two Games Away From The Stanley Cup

But first, some quick notes on the Pistons game. Haven't seen a player will his team to victory quite like Antonio McDyess did tonight. That man wants to win a championship, and if the rest of the Pistons had half his hunger, they'd be unstoppable. And the team's inconsistency is so frustrating. Had they played the way they did in the first quarter on Saturday, this series would be 3-1 going back to Boston right now. And had they continued to play with that intensity, they would have never had to claw to keep their lead in the fourth quarter. This team, other than McDyess, and the young kids like Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey, is just not hungry enough.

This post, though, focuses on the positive, and that's the Detroit Red Wings second consecutive shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins, putting them within reach of a fourth Stanley Cup in a eleven years. The Red Wings continued to be on their game, and despite the Penguins doing their best to get under the Wings skin, nothing seemed to phase the men wearing the winged wheel. Johan Franzen looked good after missing almost two weeks with concussion-like symptoms, and Valtteri Filppula scored what was one of the prettiest goals you'll see while being dragged to the ice.

And what can you say about goalie Chris Osgood? Two consecutive shutouts, becoming one of only four goalies in NHL history to start off the Stanley Cup Finals by blanking his opponent. And it's not as if Pittsburgh lacks fire power. But Osgood, and the Wings stifling defense, are making Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin look downright ordinary, after their dominant run through the Eastern Conference. I was really looking forward to watching Crosby and Malkin and seeing if they lived up to the hype (thanks to the great NHL schedulers, we didn't get a chance to see Pittsburgh at all this season) and so far, you can hardly tell when the two are on the ice. No spectacular plays, no highlight reel scoring chances.

The Wings offense, on the other hand, continues to hum right along. And with the return of Franzen, the Wings get only more dangerous heading into Games three and four in Pittsburgh. Now, the Wings, despite their 4-0 and 3-0 wins at Joe Louis, cannot start to take the Pens lightly. Pittsburgh has not lost at home in almost two months time, and there's no question the intensity level will be ratcheted up for Crosby, Malkin, and rest of the Penguins. But what the Red Wings have shown this off-season is that they can withstand the best their opponents have to offer, and if the Wings can steal one in Pittsburgh, this series could be over in five, if not sooner.

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