First off, I would like to wish everyone a happy, and safe Memorial Day. I know it's not a directly sports-related event, but if it weren't for all the brave men and women who have, and continue to serve in our Armed Forces, we may be hiding in our basements instead of relaxing in our living rooms, watching a hockey game.
So, from the bottom of our red, white, and blue hearts, no matter what team colors you may bleed, thank you all.
Now, on to the task at hand. Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Penguins were, needless to say at this point, completely dominated for the first time in these playoffs during Game One.
The Red Wings offensive attack and defensive prowess shutdown the Penguins in every facet of the game.
You knew it was bound to happen eventually. Maybe you didn't think it would be so harsh, but you knew it was coming.
The Red Wings are above and beyond any competition that the young Penguins have faced thus far, and they proved that in Game One.
So, what will be different in Game Two?
Well, first of all, Michel Therrien made some changes to the lineup during practice on Sunday.
The revamped lines should look something like this:
Although nothing is set in stone, it looks like Georges Laraque is going to be a healthy scratch, and Gary Roberts will make his return to the Penguins' lineup after being sidelined with a mild case of pneumonia.
One reassuring stat is that the Penguins have rebounded effectively to win the next game following each of their previous two losses in the playoffs.
Johan Franzen has been cleared to play by doctors and should be taking the ice for the Wings on Monday night. This will only add to the already overwhelming amount of talent on the ice for Detroit.
The Penguins weren't necessarily bad defensively in Game One, they were just overworked and over-matched.
The Pens' puck possession must improve in Game Two if they hope to stand a chance at evening the series up before returning to the Steel City for Game Three on Wednesday.
The Penguins also need to capitalize on the power play. They had four opportunities with the man advantage during the first period of Game One, and failed to score on each one.
Perhaps Therrien thinks that by putting Malone on the same line as Crosby and Talbot with Malkin, it will create more open space for the Pens' two best offensive players. Malone and Talbot will need to drive the net and draw the defense toward them in order to give Crosby and Malkin some more room to work with.
The final key to victory for the Penguins lies in the turnover department. As I previously stated, the Red Wings are not the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins cannot afford to continuously turn the puck over in the neutral zone, or by making ill-advised passes in their own end, and expect the Wings not to capitalize on those opportunities.
Adjustments are key in any best-of-seven series. The Penguins have not been faced with a situation in which adjustments needed to be made thus far in the postseason. Michel Therrien has done a good job of pulling the right strings throughout the season, and Pens fans can only hope that he still has a little of that magic touch left.
One thing is certain, going down 2-0 against the Red Wings would make for a very tall mountain for the Penguins to climb.
While nothing is impossible, everyone would feel a lot better about their chances if the Pens can pull out a victory tonight and even up the series.