Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1: Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1

I'd love to give a more detailed recap, but frankly WTHR sucks balls and I can't do it. I still don't understand why they spent so much time giving us so little useful information. It was pathetic, really. (Especially when they actually went off the air for a bit, and not my satellite either: DirecTV had no signal to transmit. Embarrassing.)

And this is why networks are working themselves out of the sports business. For one thing, they cover sports so infrequently, they have to borrow guys (and gals) from the networks that do cover it. For another, they're at the mercy of the local stations: there are thousands of stories during NFL season about local affiliates screwing over the fans in various ways. Here, it wasn't NBC's fault that WTHR ruined the broadcast, but it happened nonetheless, and it reflects poorly on NBC.

You see, the networks used to be everything to everybody, and they still think they can do that. The problem is that for cable and satellite customers, specialized channels long ago eclipsed most of what the networks offer, and the irony is that digital channels will do the rest. Why bother to watch the regular weather on WTHR news when you can watch their weather channel 24/7?

The networks are just sheep any more, only bothering to feed people whatever the other networks seemed to have done well. I think if Fox decided to put on dead air between 8 and 8:30 on Thursdays, the others would follow suit because they'd think there must be something to it.

I never thought I'd look forward to Vs covering the Cup finals, but I guess I am now.

Anyway, the Penguins played well, but the Wings played better. We heard the same tired storyline as last season (Can the veterans hang with the young, fast Penguins, especially Crosby and Malkin?), and it played out pretty much the same as before. The Wings also have fast players (remember Helm's breakaway) and the Penguins also have old players, so let's put that one to rest. The Penguins have health and the Wings don't, that's about it ... but it was the Wings who had the depth (yet again) to win Game 1. Lidstrom played only a little bit under his usual numbers, and Babcock was able to roll four lines the whole game.

The extreme lack of penalty calls might favor the Pens a little (or not - Detroit's penalty kill has been atrocious so far), but aside from that, unless Bylsma has something up his sleeve for Game 2, we're going to see a repeat of last year's Finals.

I have to admit that I didn't think Detroit would make it this far when the playoffs started, but honestly, they've just done the same things they did last season. The talking heads want this to be an exciting series and want Pittsburgh's young guns to carry the day (everyone loves an underdog), but I just don't see it yet.

Game 2 tomorrow night. A Detroit win forces the Pens to win four of five; a Pittsburgh win means the Penguins can hold serve to win the series.

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