Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ah Nuts

Here's the kind of analysis you can only get on this blog. The kind of analysis I deserve to be paid great sums for. That third period 5-on-3 decided this game. It was a golden chance to tie up the game. Barring an accidental manslaughter, they were going to be the last penalties called in the game. It was everything a team needed to get back in the series. And we spent 90 seconds watching the puck bounce over our sticks. In a series where everything has just missed, the puck just bounced over Malkin's blade when he open to rip one from the point. Zetterberg just tied up Crosby in time. And then we just lost.

Look, Detroit is definitely better than Pittsburgh. Their defense is better, their scheme is better. They've pressured us and choked us off so much that if the Penguins squeezed their sticks any tighter, the paint would fall off. Clearly, most Penguins feel like they have 0.3 seconds to make a play and everything is being rushed. Too bad, because we normally have around 0.4 second to make a play.

We didn't hold the lead long enough Saturday to change the flow of the game. If Hossa's backhander is two inches to the right and goes in instead of bouncing off the crook of the pipes, this series is 2-2. But Detroit tied it up on a shot that should've been stopped and they were able to go back to the fun and exciting trapping style that everybody loves.

The second Detroit goal summarized the entire series. We couldn't get the puck out of our zone and one of their roles players (in this case, Jiri Hudler) lobbed a soft backhander that bounced off of Fleury's shoulder, then off of the pipe, then off of the F in Fleury and into the net. we could've cleared it, but we didn't. Fleury could've stopped it, but he didn't. The puck could've bounced wide, but it didn't. C'est la vie, la fleur!

By the way, just as a reminder for a growing number of people, Malkin had 106 points during the regular season and carried the team when Crosby was out. It is probably not acceptable that a 20-something is out of gas at the end of a season he is being paid for, but that is what's happening here. He was flying in the first two rounds, which was an improvement over his first season. He'll improve further next season. Let's not trade him just yet.

Watching the game at a sports bar Saturday, I noticed that a lot of parents were bringing their kids in to eat or watch the game or whatever. And so I winced a bit every time somebody in my group used a cuss to describe something in the game. I did a lot of wincing. And during the 5-on-3 when Malkin was missing passes and turning the puck over, a guy in a corner booth yelled "Put Malkin on the fuckin' bench!" in front of his 15-year old son and 13-year old daughter. It was a little touch of Crafton in the City of Angels.

So...listen. This isn't an obituary, but like a newspaper staffer who prepares obituaries on old celebrities and dignitaries so they're ready to run the next morning, I've prepared my thoughts. And they will include the fact that the 1983 Oilers were swept by the Islanders before winning the Cup the following year. The fact that the 1995 Red Wings lost to New Jersey in the finals, then lost to Colorado in the 1996 Conference Finals before winning Cups in 1997 and 1998. The fact that this is a young team who just got a Masters-level course in playoff hockey. This was a great learning experience, like talking to a girl who's much hotter than you and telling her you work at the car wash. Next time you talk to a hot girl, you'll lie about your job. Say you're a surgeon or something. You learn by doing.

Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury. Nobody expected them to be in the finals this year. Everybody will expect to see them back in the finals next year. Just be happy this isn't all happening in Kansas City.


Anonymous said...

"bounced off the F in Fleury" couldn't have said it better myself.

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