Missing a Mismatch in May

  • Bettman made us wait a week for this mismatch? How is it that so broad a spectrum of press had so difficult a time recognizing the glaring discrepancies between these two teams? “Fooled by youth” is one explanation. In the pressure cooker of a Cup Finals, the Penguins look their age. Meaning, it’s one thing to take down the Rags and Flyers in high-stakes series, but quite another when the brightest lights are shining on the biggest stage.
  • Too little press attention was directed at the benches. Mike Babcock has the look of becoming a great coach, if he already isn’t one. And how astoundingly fortunate is it for the Wings to have a great coach follow fast on the heels of a departed legend? Meanwhile, Michel Terrien has the look of a decent coach managing young world-class talent. He has no answers for what Babcock has concocted.
  • Meet Mr. Invisible, Evgeni Malkin. Zero shots on goal in game 2. Zero.
  • How does that Marian Hossa deal look now in Pittsburgh? Gone is Eric Christensen, Colby Armstrong, and no. 1 pick Angelo Esposito. Hossa almost certainly isn’t returning to the Pens — and neither are some other free agents, including, perhaps, Ryan Malone. Pens’ beat reporter Dave Molinari was a guest of Mike Vogel’s on last week’s CapsReport, and when he was asked how difficult it would be for Pens’ management to keep this current roster of high achievers together, he replied, “It won’t be difficult at all. It will be impossible.”
  • The Penguins have 13 unrestricted free agents for next season. Among them Gary Roberts, Malone, Hossa, Georges Laraque, Jarkko Ruutu, Pascal Dupuis, and Ty Conklin. It’s obvious they have a contending core in Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Staal, Gonchar, and Orpik — they’re virtual playoff fixtures for the next half decade. But for Shero there may well be a significant rebuild required of a surrounding, supporting cast. Landing and signing stars for the long haul isn’t easy, but neither is assembling a cohesive cast without which no team can win a Cup.
  • How often do really big-name, big-salaried hockey stars in their expensive prime get dealt at the dealine and go on to lead their new teams to Lord Stanley’s glory? Far more often, isn’t it the case that contenders address vulnerable voids with battle-tested grit guys, have them join an already strong room, and then remake already strong clubs into something special?
  • It is staggering to consider how perennially strong the Wings are given where they’ve drafted in each round for the better part of the past two decades. Their scouts just get it done.
  • Another mismatch missed by the press, again related more to experience than talent: Chris Osgood vs. Marc-Andre Fleury.
  • The Wings are a great transition team, but not by luck or whim. Notice the prevalence of short passes they use in breakouts. Shorter passes, rather obviously, carry a higher rate of accuracy. In Babcock’s system players are consistently placed in positions to execute them. They reduce the incidence of turnovers, and they perpetuate poise, possession, and flow. What a great system most especially in high-pressure hockey situations. No team in the league makes anywhere near as widespread and effective a use of the short breakout pass.
  • The NHL could have ended its season — to considerable admiration — in May. (It still might, Saturday night). It chose not to. There’s virtue in scheduling integrity. Winning hockey teams don’t benefit from sitting around idle, and neither do their fans. I loved the reporter’s rejoinder to the commish last week: “You need a hobby.”
This entry was posted in detroit red wings, Gary Bettman, Morning cup-a-joe, National Hockey League, Pittsburgh Penguins. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Missing a Mismatch in May

  1. JR says:

    Double bagels! I love it. Ahhh-hhahahahahahahah. Here’s to 4-rock for the series. So this is what schedenfraude feels like. I must say it’s quite nice.

  2. Zack says:

    As much as I love watching the Penguins lose and whine, the series is far from over – no one is in trouble until they lose at home.
    That being said, I still think a sweep with 4 shutouts is possible.

  3. Ch-Ch-Charlie says:

    I didn’t miss anything in predicting this series so far. The Western conference has been strong all year. You take away 87 & 71 from the Pens and I don’t see where the Pens match up anywhere against the Wings.

  4. TG says:

    I think my feelings of schedenfraude would have been stronger if it had been Philadelphia that was at risk of getting shutout/swept.

  5. JR says:

    TG, sorry you couldn’t be accomodated, but if you apply the transitive property, the NHL might have had to cancel the finals.
    I also disagree with the theory that there isn’t any trouble because they were both road games. Hardly any shots, zero goals through 120 minutes is pretty hard to turn around.

  6. vt caps fan says:

    Don’t sleep on Malkin. He’ll wake up (but if he doesn’t HAHAHAHAHAHA).
    I’m loving the fact that they’re getting there butts handed too them, but at the same time: They’re too talented to fold over like this in four.
    But how many pens can try an hit Franzen in the head? If you’re going to try and knock him out, HIT him at full speed, don’t sucker punch him with a soft jab.
    I loved that scum at the end of the game where someone ran into Osgood and everyone on the ice went after him. I hope our guys were taking notes.
    13 free agents. WOW.

  7. mark says:

    While the Caps were swept by Detroit in the 1998, they lost the first three games by just one goal (one game in OT). The Penguins have yet to show up for this series, making it (so far) the least interesting series of the playoffs. I’d love to see the Pens swept, but it’s ending an exciting season on a yawner of a series.

  8. Capsaholic says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen a game in Detroit. Do they have nets at both ends???

  9. NS2NOVA says:

    Hope Buttman doesn’t try and use this series to justify rule changes such as increasing the size of the goal or reducing the size of goalie equipment. If scoring is down in this series, maybe it’s because the Pens decided to try and take the easy road by passing up the last game of regular season to avoid playing the Flyers. Payback is a bitch.
    I’d love to see a 4 game shutout, have every Pen go pointless (we already know they are).
    And the officials should make a specific point of nailing the Pens in the next game for any cheap shot to Franzen’s head. It was so obvious that the zebra’s see-ing eye dog was howling in protest.

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