Experience Prevails Over Youth In Game One Of Cup Finals

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent IMay 25, 2008

Heard on Episode 3.38 of AFITC

Well if there was ever any doubt about whether Nicklas Lidstrom and friends could find a way to slow or perhaps even contain the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins offensive attack, those doubts were quickly dashed after a commanding Red Wings victory in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Red Wings not only slowed and contained the Penguins big guns like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa, they completely extinguished them—holding Pittsburgh to just nineteen shots.

In what was another example of experience prevailing over youth for the first time in the 2008 playoffs, Pittsburgh looked significantly overmatched as they stumbled out of the gate, literally…just ask Marc-Andre Fleury.

Losing only two games en route to the Cup Finals, the Penguins rolled over  their Eastern Conference competition. The Red Wings were not as quick in their march to the finals, dropping four games through the first three rounds. But keep in mind they faced much tougher competition in a stronger Western Conference.

To put things in perspective, Pittsburgh appeared in Game 1 against Detroit on Saturday night as they did in Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators during the 2007 playoffs, when they were easily dispatched in five games.

The Stanley Cup Finals, unlike the first three rounds of the playoffs, represent a whole new level of hockey that requires a whole different type of experience to be successful—just as the games in those first three rounds are far different than the first 82 games that come during the regular season.

To be so close to the big prize is exciting, but that excitement can easily paralyze a team, rendering them ineffective as we saw the Penguins in Game 1. Detroit and their 23 Stanley Cup rings of experience simply played mistake-free hockey, cutting the Penguins down to size and putting themselves one step closer to Lord Stanley’s Mug.

But hey, all that was just rigamarole.