The pressure is on the Pittsburgh Penguins for tonight's Game Two. Or is it? They were down 2-0 to the Washington Capitals and managed to come back and win that series. Would it be time to panic if the Detroit Red Wings were to take the opening two games?
It's true that the Penguins played much better in Game One last night than they did a year ago and that the Red Wings were fortunate with a few bounces, but in the playoffs you make your own luck and Pittsburgh needs to adjust to the bounce happy boards at Joe Louis Arena in Game Two in order to head back to Mellon Arena with the series evened up.
There's tons of reaction to Game One, so let's take a look at what some are saying after, first from a local perspective:
Seth Rorabaugh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Empty Netters
"Each team made mistakes. Neither was perfect. But Detroit found a way to capitalize on the Penguins foul ups (bad pun sorry) while the Penguins only were only really able to cash once chance in. Detroit didn't play a perfect game and the Penguins let them off the hook. Conversely, the Red Wings didn't let the Penguins off the hook."
Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
"Excellence demands excellence. It will embarrass anything less. There were points in this game where the Wings were, as Osgood would say, "on our heels." The fact that Pittsburgh goals didn't come out of that was a combination of luck and Osgood. The goalie was never bigger than on Saturday, when he stopped a charging Malkin at pointblank range. The whole building was on its feet on that one, it was a cage match, a royal joust, their star, our star, and Ozzie denied the guy and it electrified the team and the place."
Tony Ferrante, The Confluence
"Outside of the terrible luck, the Penguins shot themselves in the foot in a couple of other ways. The Wings beat the Pens in the faceoff circle by a huge 39-16 margin. Zetterberg won 15 of 20 faceoffs, while Darren Helm(notes) won 11 of 15. In addition, the Penguins' powerplay looked horrible. Not that they went 0 for 2, but that they only got two shots on goal, and could barely get the powerplay set up. They continually forced the puck to the blue line, where most often it was simply swatted away, instead of dumping the puck and retrieving it."
Matt Saler, On the Wings
"The Wings need to get at them with a stronger overall effort in Game 2. They didn't get their offensive game established all that well, even accounting for the difficulties presented by the second period's penalties. And defensively, they can be better. The penalty kill was encouraging, but at even strength there were far too many Pittsburgh pressure shifts brought on by in-zone turnovers."
After the jump, what others are saying outside of Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News believes that the bounces that went Detroit's way won't be commonplace as the series rolls on:
"But the Pens, despite finding themselves in the same 0-1 hole as last season, are further along because both their superstars came to play and you have to believe the bounces won't conspire against them at the same rate as the series progresses. Pucks starting behind the Pens goal line hit Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) and went in the net. Ones originating from behind the Wings' goal line floated up in the air and eventually settled between the 3 and 0 on Osgood's back."
EJ Hradek of ESPN dishes out some Stanley Cup trivia that should make Red Wings happy:
"The Red Wings have history on their side. Teams that win Game 1 of the Cup finals have gone on to capture the Cup in 54 of the 69 seasons since the league introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939. For the mathematically challenged (like me), that's a 78 percent success rate. That's a pretty significant number, but all is not lost for the Penguins. In 1991, the Pens dropped Game 1 to the Minnesota North Stars before rallying to win the series."
Cam Cole from the Vancouver Sun believes that Detroit should be extremely happy that they were able to take Game One without two of their top players:
"Indeed, unless there was a full moon that nobody noticed, it was either pure happenstance or some powerful statement by the hockey gods that allowed the dinged-up Red Wings, still with no Pavel Datsyuk(notes) or Kris Draper(notes), to escape the first act of hockey's great passion play with a 3-1 victory, a cushion they will be delighted to have with Game 2 looming just 21 hours after this one ended."
"Detroit's Zetterberg also got away with a crucial foul, putting his hand over the puck in the crease to stop a goal against. Zetterberg has a knack for smart but illegal plays. Last season in the Cup final, on a key penalty kill, he took out Crosby before the puck was anywhere near Crosby, stopping him from scoring when the puck did arrive.
Neither time was Zetterberg called, so one could blame the referees or give credit to Zetterberg for crafty and stealthy play. I tend to do a bit of both."
TSN insider Darren Dreger explains the referees decision on the Zetterberg play:
"In the third period of Game 1, it looked like Henrik Zetterberg put his glove on a puck in the crease which would normally lead to a penalty shot, but on Saturday, it all came down to the interpretation of referee Paul Devorski.
Devorski was there at ice level, and according to the director of officiating Stephen Walkom, he's assuming that the interpretation was that Zetterberg was simply trying to bat the puck off of Chris Osgood's(notes) back.
One thing to remember though is that the crease extends upwards, so if Zetterberg did cover the puck with his glove, then a penalty shot should have been called.
It was an interpretation call, and Devorski thought that Zetterberg was trying to bat the puck, not cover it."
Finally, Damian Cox from the Toronto Star lauds the NHL for the back-to-back games to open the Stanley Cup Finals:
"The NHL reacted brilliantly by not only moving up the Stanley Cup final from what was to be a June 5 start date to last night, but also going with back-to-back games on the opening weekend.
With both matches on prime time on NBC in the U.S. and Hockey Night in Canada in the Great White North, the back-to-back set should produce some momentum on both sides of the border at a time when the game itself is shining as it hasn't in years."
Game Two is tonight at 8PM. Is it a must-win for Pittsburgh? Is this series over if Detroit prevails again?
- the Penguins
- Red Wings