So perhaps the fat lady has not sung yet, as far as the Pittsburgh Penguins are concerned. But at this point in the series, she has cleared her throat, prepared her sheet music and has approached the microphone.
Yes, it is still 3 games to 1 in favour of Detroit going into tonight's game 5 in Motown and yes, anything can still happen. Now that I have appeased the hopelessly optimistic Pens fans, let's look at the facts.
Putting aside the obvious stat that the last team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the final round was the '42 Leafs. The Penguins, should they go on to lose this series, should hold their heads high and know that they were beaten by a team that was more ready, more poised, better prepared and more experienced than they were.
Chris Osgood has 104 career playoff games, Marc-André Fleury has 23. Michel Therrien has made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in his career whereas Mike Babcock has been there and done that with the Anaheim Ducks. Datsyuk, Zetterberg Franzen, Lidstrom and Rafalski have seemed to always have the upper hand, as a unit over Crosby, Hossa, Malkin, Gonchar and Malone, although Crosby is the leading scorer of the playoffs to date.
The Penguins went into this series knowing that even though they would let in a few goals, their d-line was not necessarily that of stellar proportions, their offence would more than hold its own and potentially win them games. So far in four games, they have been outscored 11-4.
This is not to say that the Penguins are a bad team all of a sudden. They were lacking in the one department that the Red Wings were not.
Experience is one of the by-products of Detroit's veteran-laden line-up. Players like Chris Chelios, Niklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren Mccarty have all won up to three cups each during their time in Detroit. Brian Rafalski won two with New Jersey whereas the Penguins boast four cups among the whole team.
Now, perhaps I took a slight risk posting this article before the series is officially over, but in the case that the Penguins do not go on to pull of the comeback of the decade and win, they should bear in mind that they do not necessarily go away empty-handed.
They take back with them newfound, impossible to get playoff experience—Stanley Cup Final experience, to be more precise. The next time they reach this level, and there will be a next time, they will then be able to say "been there, done that."
Not to fret, Penguins fans, there's always next year....If the Habs don't take it!