Monday, May 26, 2008

Series over

One way you can tell when a team is beaten is when they start taking cheap shots at the other team - usually it's just a couple of players, but they typically won't miss a chance to do it. Jarome Iginla would be proud at the way that Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone have been playing in Game 2.

Michel Therrien should take note, though. Just as Iginla took boneheaded penalties against the Wings in 2007, so has Malone in 2008. In Game 2, all three of Malone's penalties were offensive-zone penalties, and the third was early in a Pittsburgh power play. (Roberts took a minor penalty as well, but at this point in his career, he's clearly a designated agitator anyway. he's got nothing else to contribute.)

Obviously the Penguins can come back, and certainly a 2-0 series lead isn't invulnerable. If Pittsburgh wins Games 3 and 4, it's a best-of-three series. However, they're not going to win if they don't score, and there's nothing in Game 2 that indicates they will do so.

One of the knocks on the Wings since maybe 1995 is that they're not "tough" and that they can be beaten with "physical" play (Mike Modano was one of the players who brought this up most recently - he probably still thinks he can't be checked). Usually, "physical" play is a euphemism for enforcement, and Pittsburgh's lucky Detroit doesn't have anyone like that. (McCarty is well past that point of his career, mostly being a Roberts-type guy, and no one on the active roster really does that, except maybe Chelios as a pest-type.)

If the Wings did, one of the Pens would likely get run late in the game. There have been quite a few shots exchanged late in the game (translation: weak officials, although Detroit just got a power play as a result of some of this), and usually that's when your "tough guy" has to "send a message".

Unless you're in Calgary, in which case your "tough guy" doesn't realize he's really the best player on the team and can't spend five minutes in the box.

Two games down, two to go.

EDIT: Pittsburgh just committed another penalty, another shot to Franzen's head, this one after the whistle blew. Brian Burke would be so proud.

Ed Olczyk still doesn't understand what the Penguins need to do to turn things around.

Maybe that's what got him fired in Pittsburgh.

EDIT: Now it's out of control. Well hey, the NHL would have stopped this if it really wanted to. They don't care. Wonder why the NHL is a second-tier sport, relegated to the cage-fighting channel? There is no enforcement. No postseason game should ever devolve into a brawl. Ever. And this wasn't a baseball brawl, either. It was Osgood getting run by Sykora (are you kidding me? Sykora? not at all a guy I thought would do that) ... one thing I noticed was that Franzen was on top of someone, not exactly discussing the economy. Can't say I blame him much.

If the NHL isn't going to protect you, then you feel you have to protect yourself, and that never works. It didn't work in the '70s and it doesn't work now. There is always someone else who will keep it going. The NBA realizes this. The NFL realizes this. MLB doesn't, but Selig's an idiot anyway.

Olczyk thinks the Penguins can build off this. Uh, sure. I guess now you get points for cheap shots.

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