Red Wings-Penguins: Datsyuk's Return Proves Bad News for Pittsburgh
I would like to preface this article by saying Games Three and Four totally turned this series around. The Penguins came back to Mellon Arena and played inspired hockey. Their backs were against the wall and they responded.
The Red Wings looked flat, and the Penguins looked fresh. The Penguins outplayed the Red Wings in all facets of the game; it's as simple as that. Evgeni Malkin piled up points in those two games, while Sidney Crosby joined in on the scoring as well.
I cannot stand Sidney Crosby, and I recently lost just about every ounce of respect for Evgeni Malkin after the debacle that was the last 25 seconds of Game Two, and as much as I hate to say it, Malkin and Crosby led their team to back-to-back wins at home.
I am not going to talk about the officiating. There are no excuses. Pittsburgh handled the Red Wings in both those games.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I would like to say that Game Five is an unfair name for what happened at Joe Louis Arena last night. I'm not sure what exactly to call it, but a game it was not.
The Red Wings started to scoring off roughly midway through the first period on a one-timer from Dan Cleary, who is still adding to his best career playoff campaign.
The play was started as Brian Rafalski moved the puck up to Pavel Datsyuk who crossed the blue line, cut inside and made a quick pass to Cleary, who used the Penguins defender as a screen and shot it past Fleury.
The second period began with Pittsburgh down 1-0, answering back and knotting the score would be huge and turn the momentum around, but Chris Osgood turned dispelled any chances of a Penguins goal on the times he was tested.
Detroit continued its trend of secondary scoring in Game Five. First with Dan Cleary's goal to break the scoreless tie, then a mere 1:44 into the second period, Valtteri Filppula scored to make it 2-0.
Within five minutes of that, Niklas Kronwall made a beautiful play down low, beating three Penguins defenders to notch a power play tally to make it 3-0. Within three minutes of that, Brian Rafalski put a wrist shot past Fleury on the power play once more, making the score 4-0.
Henrik Zetterberg netted the third power play goal of the game for Detroit and his 11th goal of the playoffs to make it 5-0, and that is the score the game ended with.
The Red Wings went 1-10 on the power play in the first four games.
In Game Five, they went 3-9. Continued secondary scoring is the reason why the Red Wings were able to pull off such a victory. Pavel Datsyuk had two assists in his long-awaited return, but Cleary, Filppula, Kronwall, and Rafalski all scoring in Game Five means the worst for Pittsburgh.
A different Red Wings team showed up in Game Five. Not the same group of banged up, tired, seemingly unmotivated group that showed up for Games Three and Four. With the series back at square one, the Red Wings struck first and struck often. They even chased Marc-Andre Fleury out of the game before the second period ended.
I'm not sure if Sidney Crosby has totally regressed from his stellar play in Games Three and Four, but he looked more like Sidney Crosby three years ago, when he slashed Henrik Zetterberg and took a minor for slashing.
But Crosby wasn't alone, Evgeni Malkin should've paid rent in the penalty box with his three minor penalties, including the elbow to Johan Franzen's face.
Maxime Talbot also sat for his cheap shot at Pavel Datsyuk's injured foot, and Pittsburgh "tough guy," Chris Kunitz drops his glove to sucker punch Darren Helm twice while he already has him in a headlock. Real classy, Pittsburgh.
I don't care what you say, but you cannot win games when you take undisciplined penalties as the Penguins did, and it does not say much for your team when they start taking those undisciplined penalties once the game gets out of hand.
That is stupid hockey, and the Red Wings capitalized on those stupid mistakes. When the penalty minutes are 48-14 in any game, which team would you assume would win?
Oh, and did I mention Chris Osgood responded after his two worst games of the Stanley Cup Finals with a shutout? That was a rhetorical question, because I know I didn't. Osgood has built a pretty strong case for a Conn Smythe Trophy nod.
Henrik Zetterberg has been playing better and better and the series has progressed, but it would be great to see Osgood win a Conn Smythe. Even then, people would still find reasons to knock his statistics, record, and rings.
But I can't imagine Pittsburgh is enjoying the uphill battle they face now. This sets the stage for Game Six, and boy, is that going to be one for the ages.
Just think, about this time last year, the Red Wings lost a deflating triple-overtime game at home, only to go into Mellon Arena in Game Six and leave with Lord Stanley's Cup.
Eerie? I'd say so.
Deja vu? You better believe it.
Wings in Six? You're damn right.
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