Even though the Pens were shelled 5-0 in Game Five, they stormed back on home ice to prevent a repeat of last season. The footage of the Stanley Cup being polished during the game while the Wings were losing made no sense.
The Wings did not traditionally out-shoot the Pens until the third period. They were lax on their defensive assignments, which included the breakaway goal by Jordan Staal in to start the second period. The Wings also allowed Tyler Kennedy room enough to shoot in the rebound for their second goal early in the third period.
In truth, Chris Osgood was the best player on the ice. Marc-Andre Fleury may have been the winning goalie, but he did not face the barrage of shots that Osgood did in the game until the third period.
The one-goal output by the Wings is strange as it is the same output they had in Games Three and Four. However, the veteran move by Kris Draper to rush the net before the shot by Jonathan Ericsson left him in perfect position for the rebound to keep the Wings in the game.
The Wings were not able to capitalize on the rest of the scoring chances that followed in the third period.
The greatest difference in Game Six from the other games in the series was the lack of calls. I cannot remember the last time an NHL game had only four penalties. In Game Five, the Pens had that many in the last few minutes.
This dearth of calls is strange. Was there not enough contact to warrant calls, or did the league want to extend the series to seven games?
Regardless, the league refusal of either team to show the game outside for the Pens and inside for the Wings at Joe Louis Arena has left another black eye for the league in its relations with the teams and their fans.
It seems that Gary Bettman has sold out the league to NBC so fans will not just watch the game but also watch NBC's other shows.
Bettman may think it is not a big deal, but on Friday he is the one that has to present the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup. The fans in Detroit will try to boo him off the ice.
Game Seven will settle the score in a series where each team has won all its games at home. Both teams have fought tooth-and-nail to prove that they belong in this year's version of the Stanley Cup final.
For the Wings to repeat, they have to come out with a relentless, no-holds barred fury. They cannot let off the gas pedal until the game is over. Their offensive strategy will be to put as many shots on net as possible to wear Fleury out both physically and mentally.
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Daniel Cleary, Kris Draper, and Darren Helm will have to bring the fire with their shots and dominate the faceoffs. Better late than never, Marian Hossa will also have to make that light go red as well.
The defensive strategy is to check the Pens at every opportunity to wear them down. No more Pens breakaways or rebounds will be allowed.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Brett Lebda, and Jonathan Ericsson will have to be such a wall that the two-headed monster of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be too stifled defensively to get past center ice.
Osgood has gotten the Wings this far with stellar goaltending and awareness to prevent any team in these playoffs from having a chance. However, he cannot be left alone to defend the Pens if they do reach the Wings' zone.
The Wings will have to frustrate the Pens so much that their lack of discipline comes through, leading to more Wings power plays. They must dismantle the Pens into submission.
Even though the Wings are the more talented team, they cannot play flaccid for a second of this game. This is a Game Seven for the Stanley Cup.