I made a nice speculation on my Penguins to win the Eastern Conference about 10 days before the regular season ended getting 6-1 on them. I figured they'd won it last year and at that time were playing as well as anyone in the East. They were offered at 12-1 to win the whole shebang, but I decided against that wager reasoning I would only be getting even money for the final round and I may get more than that if they met either San Jose or Detroit. Well, the 'Guins are listed at +130-135 against Deroit and I'm putting some of those winnings back in. My objectivity might be skewed, but I'm giving them a great chance to beat Detroit this year.
As a Blackhawks fan, I can say that the Hawks were thoroughly outclassed by the Red Wings. The Hawks are more like last year's Penquins, still a year away from being able to compete with the big boys. While watching the Pen-Sen series at the same time as the Blackhawks-Canucks series, it was obvious that the series in the East was being played at a higher level than the one in the West. That said, I still think the Red Wings are the ones to beat. Tough team and one that absolutely punishes you when you make mistakes. The Penquins will certainly make fewer mistakes than Chicago did, but I still have to go with the old guard.
Man, did I get sick of seeing Dan Cleary with the puck.
went to my first live hockey game earlier this year. had a blast. not sure why it doesn't work well on TV, but it doesn't... anyway the coolest thing about hockey I think it that end of the game is played the same as the rest of the game. The last 2 min take 2 min, not a half hour like a basketball or football game.
ME, that's how the Pens were last year, totally outclassed. Even though the Pens are down 0-2, I fell they played the Wings pretty even and carried play for much of the game both nights. Still, coming back now appears statistically very improbable. I haven't given up hope, however.
Can they win in Detroit? Yes. Will they? That's why they play them, I guess.
They won Game 5 in Detroit last year and, IMO, played Detroit at least even in Games 1 & 2 this series. The young Pens are starting to feel it and absolutely believe they can win the series. It seems to me that there is a palpable difference between how the Pens played Detroit last year and this year. Last year, they weren't ready to play at that level. This year, they are. As a realtively young team, the Pens are still on a learning curve in these playoffs, as they were last year. They are gaining valuable experience and confidence with each game. I don't think Detroit, as a more veteran team, has any more upside to them. Of course, Detroit is a formidable opponent right now, but there is a lot of hope in The Burgh today, and I think it is justified.
I'm not the only one who feels what I expressed above. This is from Mitch Alblom of the Detroit Free Press today (swear I didn't read it til after posting the above):
This is not good. I dont want to say signs are ominous, but if the Red Wings passed a fortune teller right now, they would hide their palms in their pockets. The stars came out for the Penguins on Thursday night, and it is officially no longer last year anymore.
Last year, the Stanley Cup finals were never tied. Last year, the only team with a chance to win in six was the Wings. Last year, Sidney Crosby seemed a lot younger, and Evgeni Malkin seemed like just one man, instead of the five he looked like in Game 4 here, there, everywhere.
He dominated tonight, Crosby told Versus of his teammate who had a goal and an assist in Pittsburghs 4-2 victory.
And thats from Sidney Crosby.
When Crosby and Malkin were on the ice together, they looked like their pre-series billing two of the biggest stars in the game, and damn hard to stop.
They may have been behind the clouds a bit this series, but they lit up the arena in Game 4, and Jordan Staal, also previously cloudy, was flickering on, and Marc-Andre Fleury seemed a lot more porous in Game 1. Now the Penguins are flashing like a Broadway marquee, two straight victories and a confidence that grows quickly when youre young, fast and healthy. The Wings best chance in this series was to win it early, use their first-strike experience to knock out the Pens before they realized how good they were.
That chance is gone. Its a minimum six, looking more like seven, and if the Wings win this Cup, theyll have to fight for every silver inch of it and may have to get out of their own way.
Spanky, even if you hate the "Stillers," you can get behind this Penguins team, with their collection of young, bright talent. In Malkin and Crosby, they have perhaps 2 of the 3 best players in the league, and they're only 22 and 21!!! Add in Jordan Staal and Fleury they have two other bright young stars. Crosby has maturity well beyond his years and is a perfect "Face" of the NHL. He is always respectful and says the right things. They are simply an easy team to like.
Hockey, more than any of the other major sports, seems to serve youthful talent and Albom is right, Detroit doesn't want these young stars realizing they can win this thing. But, it's too late, they already know. Detroit is still a deeply talented and experienced team and may win the next two games or win it in 7. But I'm pretty sure the Pens are totally in this thing. I knew it last Sat. night, even as Detroit won 3-1. The way the Pens were capable of competing on the ice was just so night-and-day different than last year that I knew the young Pens had grown up and Detroit had their hands full.
Champions don't give up their Championship easily and the more veteran Wings absolutely schooled the Pens Saturday Night. So disappointing for me and many other Pens fans who honestly believed that Thursday marked the passing of the momentum torch if not something more symbolic. Had to reflect upon things for awhile to realize that Lemieux had something like 6 full seasons under his belt before he took the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals and that there was a considerable amount of talent in the supporting cast. Crosby/Malkin/Stall are only in their third season.
If the Pens can keep this nucleus of young players on the team, the future is bright, but it may not yet be their time. Haven't given up hope. Come out tomorrow, play as hard as they can and let the chips fall where they may. If the Pens can force a Game 7.... well, who knows.
Game 5, the problem was penalties were being called. The NHL needs to do something ... more consistency. Caps against the Rangers there was a penalty for tripping and at the same time 2 minutes for embellishing and yet vs the Pens it seemed their strategy was get close to a Cap and fall down , 2 minutes in the sin bin Caps. Forget which game in the final but the Pens got away with about 7 tripping penalties .... or what was tripping in every game that I'd seen in the finals prior.
Pens were always going to need at least one win in Detroit to get their names on the Cup, it might as well be Game 7. It'll take the same effort or maybe more, plus a few breaks to win the game. Other than a few short spurts, the Pens "Superstars" have been largely contained by Detroit in this Series, which is a tribute to the Wings' team defensive play, but maybe the stars shine in Detroit Friday night.
Congrats to the Penguins on winning the Cup. Great game and great tenacity shown by the Penguins after falling behind 2-0 and 3-2. Had the Penguins at +135 for the series, but put a few more bucks on them at +180 tonight.
Congrats to you too George. Pittsburgh is on a roll. The Steelers, now the Penguins. Hey maybe the Pirates will get lucky. Too bad the Pipers aren't around anymore.
I believe that's Penguins Defenseman Hal Gill and many elated youngsters. The venue is, once again, Mario Lemieux's swimming pool (a different one than 1991. Mario's moved up in the world). It's been a long time, but I hear the Cup missed the soothing waters of Mario's pool.
Current Topic - The contest for Lord Stanley's Cup