Pittsburgh returns to the scene of the crime on Tuesday. Here are several observations and musings.
Top Three ways to embarrass, punish, or otherwise mame Marian Hossa
1) Have Godard start a fight with him
2) Challenge him to a grape crushing contest. Oh no, I think he's actually hurt.
3) Try getting a reservation at Cheli's Chili Bar now!
Keys to a Penguins Win:
1) Marc-Andre Fluery plays composed and makes one save he has no business making.
With an off day against the Islanders, Fluery will have had plenty of rest, guaranteeing high energy and freshness, but also seeds of uncertainly will have had time to creep into his skull. The last time he faced the Red Wings, the Penguins lost the Stanley Cup.
He can't let in any soft sixth-hole goals like he did in Game Six. He must communicate with his defenseman on dump-ins, and he must handle the puck well should he be called upon to do so. He must force them to earn their tallies.
2) Kronwall is silenced from the start, but in a legal or equally-penalized fashion.
Nik Kronwall can not go be given an opportunity to headhunt Malkin. Gene gets too emotional, despite his cool Russian exterior, and then he is lost to us. Whether it's Matt Cooke or Mr. Godard himself, someone has to protect Malkin in a penalty-free manner
This cannot be stressed enough. The Red Wings will score on the power play, which goes against point one of Fluery making them earn their tallies.
As a corollary, Malkin is God's gift to the Guinos when he can play worry-free.
3) No penalties. Stay the course. A thousand points of light. Stay the course.
4) Third-line production is really super, but this game is an opportunity for Miroslav Satan to prove his worth to the Penguins.
Is he an obnoxiously streaky point scorer? Is he mentally tough to be in the same building as the player he was expected to replace? Will Ray Shero be looking for a replacement for him by March 4?
Last year, the pressure was on the Penguins' defense to slow the video-game offense of the Red Wings. This year, the Red Wings are clearly operating another video game roster with the salary cap turned off somehow, retaining lines and lines of offense firepower akin to shooting a whale in a shot glass with a nuclear warhead.
However, their defense is not what it was last year. Perhaps age has caught up with them, or perhaps a touch of the complacency bug has struck the defense. And so there rests Brad Pitt's achilles tendon.
The challenge will be on the Penguins' offense to score on a suddenly-suspect defense. Because lord knows, the Red Wings will get their chances. The Penguins must set the offensive pace not simply try to meet it.
If the Penguins arrive with their own drum line and start banging away, and Marc-Andre makes one save that he has no business making, the Guinos will win 5-4.
Make sure to support hockey on national television by watching this game on Versus.