Red machines blank Penguins in Game #1
Pittsburgh's nerves took over in loss
Game #1– Detroit Red Wings 4 - Pittsburgh Penguins 0
The game could not have started any worse for the Penguins. During his traditional 20 foot sprint onto the ice, Marc-Andre Fleury led his young Penguin team by tripping flat on his face. Even worse was when Budd Lynch, who has been the public announcer for many years, introduced Sidney Crosby as “Steven” Crosby during the ceremonial face-off. All of this led the way to an embarrassing start to an embarrassing loss for Pittsburgh, as Detroit won game #1 by a 4-0 score.
Wings captain, Nicklas Lidstrom scored a goal in the first period that was immediately waived off by the referees. The zebras claimed that Tomas Holmstrom interfered with Fleury and sent the Swede to the penalty box for doing his job. This is 2nd time this post season that Holmstrom was the reason for a disallowed goal, the first time being against Dallas.
The action packed 0-0 first 20 minutes turned out to be a goalie clinic thanks in part to the Pens failing to score on 4 early power plays. Mikael Samuelsson opened the scoring at the 13:01 mark of the 2nd period on a beautiful unassisted wrap-around, after a terrible line-change by the Pens. Pittsburgh was outshot 16-4 in the period and looked confused the entire time.
Detroit displayed the perfect “dump and chase” as Samuelsson gave the Wings a 2-0 lead on another hard-earned unassisted goal 2 minutes into the 3rd period. In the final 3 minutes of the game, Dan Cleary (shorthanded) and Henrik Zetterberg (power play) both scored to complete the 4-0 win for the Wings, in dominating fashion.
Pittsburgh was nowhere to be found in this game only managing 7 shots in the final 2 periods. If it was not for Fleury, this could have been an 8 or 9 goal win by the Wings. The nervousness did show and so did the inexperience; the finals are not for people with shaky hands. Gary Roberts was a healthy scratch in game #1, but he is needed on the Pens bench for his leadership and on the ice for his gritty edge.
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Here are the key factors in this series as stated in our 2008 Stanley Cup Finals preview:
The Wings dominated this factor with 2 goals by Samuelsson and 1 by Cleary while Johan Franzen did not have doctor’s permission to play. Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal, Petr Sykora, and Ryan Malone combined for 1 shot on net. Hand’s down, this factor was purely conquered by the wings with 75% of their goals coming from secondary scoring.
Detroit’s defense shut down Crosby and Malkin with ease, while Pittsburgh’s defense was always chasing red jerseys. Samuelsson raced around Robert Scuderi on his 1st goal and used his speed again on his 2 nd of the night. The Pens need a new game plan if they want to compete with the Wings since their blue liners are far to slow.
I actually think Fleury, in his first finals game, played much better than Osgood in the loss. The Pens goaltender was left to face 36 solid shots (told you he would over 30 a game) but did allow 4 by him. Ozzy plays great under pressure and game #1 was no different during his shutout, a good portion of his 19 saves were not gimmie’s.
This was Pittsburgh’s worst performance in this year's playoffs, hand down. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were only seen in this game when they were hit, both having brutal games. The 2 all-stars were not impressive in their Stanley Cup debuts totaling 4 shots on net and both showed slight nervousness. I recommend convincing Coach Therrien to get Roberts in the line-up.
The Penguins have not won in Joe Louis Arena in over 7 years. Detroit’s result says it all with the 4-0 win; great offense, great defense, and sheer domination.
Detroit leads series 1-0.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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