No Regard

June 1, 2008

Where You At, Malkin?

Filed under: Uncategorized — hoyler @ 9:32 am

Malkin(Courtesy AP)

If you watched any significant portion of the Pittsburgh Penguins second round series against the New York Rangers, this lackluster Stanley Cup Finals performance, which will probably come to an end Monday evening in Detroit, isn’t a huge shock.

The Rangers are the Eastern Conference team most similar to the Red Wings in style, a team that prefers to control the puck when they have possession as opposed to playing dump and chase to get into their opponent’s defensive zone.

But the Rangers, albeit a very talented squad, have any played a true European puck-possession style for a season and a half, so they are nowhere near as familiar with the system as the Red Wings, who have worked it to perfection in taking a 3-1 series lead and winning Saturday’s Game 4 by a 2-1 score.

The Red Wings themselves credited the Rangers with that much in an article in this week’s Sports Illustrated. They also pointed out that Ottawa and Philly are teams that much prefer to chase in deep and try to get scoring chances that way. It made for a simple result: the Pens are/were simply unprepared to have to win by grinding out chances and making the most of their time with the puck.

A perfect example of this, their epic failures on pretty much every power play they get. It’s clear that they are playing tight with the man advantage, aware that they have almost zero chance of controlling the game in even strength. The result is a 2-for-17 performance that has left the Pens on the brink of elimination.

With a 1:26 of 2-man advantage in the middle of the third period last night, the best chance the Pens could muster was a flub in front of the net by captain Sidney Crosby, who had his stick tied up by do-it-all superstar Henrik Zetterberg.

It was a microcosm of this entire series; the superstar forwards of the Wings frustrating the superstar forwards of the Pens on offense AND defense. It’s the main reason Nicklas Lidstrom will have Commissioner Count Chocula call his name to come retrieve the Stanley Cup at approximately 10:30 p.m. EST Monday.

Congrats Detroit; you overcame a horrendous performance in last year’s Western Conference Finals and two very inspired comebacks in the 1st and 3rd rounds this year to dominate the Stanley Cup Finals. You’re a deserving champion.

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