It was a great game to watch, easily the best game I've watched since the first round of the playoffs... it made the San Jose/Dallas overtime game look like a soccer match.
Now, the Pens and their loyal fans and bandwagon fans feel a run coming on, the same improbable run that Anaheim, Dallas, San Jose and Philly all thought their teams had in them... with none of the above actually pushing the series to 7.
Will this one be different? Can the Penguins win on home ice and push this game into a seventh and deciding game? We all want it, you know the league office wants it, and it would be great for the game. Home ice advantage gives the Pens the edge they may need to pull off another victory.
I think it "could" happen. But I think we're going to see a suffocating Red Wings team with a chip on their shoulder after letting this one get away from them. My early prediction; 2-0 Wings as they hold the Pens to 20 or less shots. As bad as I want a game 7, I don't think it's going to happen... analyzing the series and especially last night's game points towards the Wings.
Here's my thoughts on last night's thriller...
Marc-Andre Fleury stole the game, plain and simple. He managed to keep the puck out of the net with a lot of help from the post until his team could capitalize on a chance... one decent scoring chance for the Penguins out of maybe 3-5 in the 3 overtimes.
Sidney Crosby has been a warrior all series long and he proves it with every shift he takes.
If they could get Malkin to play like Crosby for even 1/3 of his shifts, they'd be okay... but he insists on floating around the ice, not skating hard, staying out WAY too long on shifts and then proceeding to change rather than backcheck. He may be a Hart Finalist... but he's a long way from being a winner. Malkin seems to be getting a lot of credit for his assist on the winner; however, look closer at the play... a happy bounce landed the puck right on his stick, had he been actually chasing the puck to the corner where it was headed, he wouldn't have been there to collect the bad bounce.. he was rewarded heavily for his lazy playing, when in actuality, he was the best penalty killer the Wings had last night.
Petr Sykora did absolutely nothing in OT, until a lucky bounce landed the puck on his stick and buried it. Great shot though, proves how valuable guys with quick shots can be.
Hal Gill is getting a lot of praise today, even though every time he was on the ice, he made a mistake that led to a scoring chance that Fleury bailed him out of. He was also very lucky as the potential game winner went off his skate and just barely wide of the net on a play where he failed to pick up his man in front of the net... that was just before Sykora scored.
Gary Roberts is leading by example for this young Pens team.
I don't understand Michel Therrien. I don't think he's a good coach. Obviously Sidney Crosby isn't getting enough minutes. He's effective on every shift, yet Malkin continues to get just as much ice while he floats around. In OT last night... there's an offensive zone faceoff and Therrien sends out the fourth line, really. Babcock must have been licking his chops and sends out the big guns in Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Wings win the draw cleanly, break out, set up in the offensive zone, and work the fourth line like a power-play, leading to several chances and later in the shift, a cross bar. 'Mike' is being carried by an extremely talented team, but he's going to cost them with his over-coaching... or maybe it's under-coaching...
Needless to say, I feel the Pens stole one in every way you look at it last night. I don't think we get to see a game 7 this year. Going over the notes I posted above tells you all you need to know about it.
Ron Wilson... Ron Wilson? ... Ron freaking Wilson is the man hired to save the Leafs?
Ron has had the opportunity to coach really good teams. He took over the Washington Capitals as they were poised to win a cup as one of the strongest teams in the league... only to lose in the final that first season, and then underachieve for the next 4 seasons before getting fired.
San Jose... may seem eerily familiar to some. A team that was just small pieces away from making a serious cup run. They go from missing the playoffs, to losing in the conference finals to the Flames. They enter the post-lockout era as a huge favorite and on top of that, add one of the top 5 players in the league without giving up much in return. Everything was there... a superstar team that every year is the trendy pick for the cup... only to lose in the second round every year. Never being able to make the jump to a 'real' playoff contender.
But he is going to lead the Leafs to the promised land? I don't think so. I can only think that this is just some sort of stop-gap, not unlike they were trying to do with Dave Nonis (don't even get me started on him... he kind of mirrors Wilson as the Canucks are perennial favorites who choke consistently as well)... where they can let him tinker around until they can find someone else to lead them.
A good winning percentage does not a "winning" coach make.
Good luck to the Pens tomorrow night... the good news is that all they need is another astronomical, one-of-a-kind performance from their unproven 23 year old goaltender who's only precedence in big championship games previous to this is single-handedly choking away a World Junior title for Canada... too harsh? Maybe, but until I see him string together two good games against a team other than Philly, I won't count on him for a second.