Listen up all you Penguin-haters! This blog is for you!
It hasn't even been 12 hours since the game ended, and already I've seen multiple stories suggesting that this series is a repeat of last year's Cup Finals. That the result will be the same and there is nothing the Penguins can do about it. They can't win four out of five against Detroit.
It's time for all of us to take a reality check. Having lived in Detroit for both the 1997 and 1998 Cup Championships, I can tell you that the attitude of the Red Wings is "We haven't won anything yet." The luxury we have as fans is that we can celebrate early when our teams appear to be winning, but this is getting too extreme. One lucky bounce and two missed calls and this series could easily have been tied at one.
A penalty on Michael Samuelsson for elbowing Matt Cooke in front of the Penguins net after a first-period whistle could have resulted in Malkin's powerplay goal being scored even sooner.
A call on Niklas Kronwall for interference in the second could have resulted in another powerplay goal for the Penguins who were doing almost everything right on the powerplay.
Twice in game two Sidney Crosby found the post. Both times he was less than a quarter-inch away from a goal or from seeing the puck bounce in off a defender or Osgood or a rebound-hungry Penguin.
The Red Wings know that while they did play two great games, their opponent played two great games also. The Wings know that they have to keep playing the way they did in the first two games and hope the matchups don't get the best of them in Pittsburgh. The Wings know that the Penguins erased a 2-0 deficit this year against a very good Washington Capitals team. The Wings know this series is not over until Gary Bettman walks on the ice and presents the 35-pound silver chalice to either Niklas Lidstrom or Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins know they are down, but not out. The Penguins know they have at least two games at Mellon Arena. The Penguins know that they beat Washington in three straight games after falling into that 2-0 hole in the second round. They, like Detroit, know that the series is not over until someone lifts the Cup.
There is a lot of hockey left to play between two very good teams. For those who want to look at the 2-0 lead and say "here we go again," consider the differences this year from last. Pittsburgh scored two goals more than last year, while keeping one goal of the board for Detroit. That's a 2-1 ratio for you non-math experts. While I don't actually expect that to hold over the rest of the series, let's assume it does. That would mean Pittsburgh outscores Detroit 6-3 over the next two games.
Last year Pittsburgh won game three and lost game four. Take away one of Detroit's four goals from last year (they scored two in both games) and add one goal to each game for Pittsburgh. That gives Pittsburgh a win in game three and at least a tie in game four (which means overtime since there are no ties in the playoffs). Just like that we have a series that looks nothing like last year's.
So I'll say it again, to all you Penguin-haters out there: SHUT UP! The series is not over until the Stanley Cup is lifted in the air. Keep cheering for your team and I'll keep cheering for mine and we'll see who wins the race to four.
Oh, and just for the record I could make a list for both teams of crap they have been able to get away with. Kudos to the refs for letting the boys play, but before either side defends their team realize that I can and will attack both equally for things that were either called wrong or weren't called at all. Don't go there!