Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5: Detroit 5, Pittsburgh 0


Okay, first of all, Pavel Datsyuk is not worth 3 goals per game. He's not. Second, you can't draw too many conclusions from a single game.

However, if you look at what happened in Games 1 and 2, and then look at this game, I just don't see how you can say Pittsburgh can win in this building. I'm not even sure they can beat Detroit in Game 6.

For the first few minutes, Pittsburgh played well, as they have in virtually every game. Kronwall took a silly penalty early in the first ... and the Penguins did not score. In fact, they didn't have many chances. The presence of Datsyuk on the penalty kill made a huge difference.

After one, it was 1-0 Detroit, with Kunitz in the box for a silly penalty (somewhat questionable). The Pens kill that off, and ... give up a goal on that shift, even-strength. That might not have been too bad, but then Gonchar took a dumb penalty, and it was 3-0. Malkin penalty, 4-0. Kunitz penalty, 5-0, and that was that.

Well, Pittsburgh had a few more penalties left in them, including 3 misconducts in the third period, and once again, they're lucky the NHL doesn't care about discipline - imagine if Malkin had been suspended for Game 3?

I'm not really sure how much of it was youth, how much was frustration, and how much was the realization that they simply aren't good enough yet. (They can still win, sure, but they're not the better team.) For that, you could forgive Crosby and Malkin a little frustration. If Hossa had stayed in Pittsburgh, this would be an even series at least, and with Datsyuk out, the Pens might have won it by now. But he went to Detroit, and right now, it looks like that was a good move.

I think Bylsma has to throw this entire game out. None of this ever happened. He has to tell the team that Datsyuk will be healthy for Game 6, so the Pens have to come out hard, keep the pressure on, take the lead, and hold on. Fleury has to be solid. One of the "grit" players has to step up. (That doesn't narrow it down much ... which is the problem with filling your roster with that kind of player.) I don't think Pittsburgh will take stupid penalties at home, but then I thought they'd come out tough today, and they only played 18 minutes of good hockey.

Emrick is talking about how the Wings have made statements against three teams this season: against San Jose twice, against Chicago twice, and now. I can't argue with that. The Wings showed how well they can play at home, and with one on the table if they need it, they've put up a pretty convincing case for their 12th Cup.

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