It's been a great ride for the Penguins in the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
These guys have shown a lot of heart and character over the course of the first 3 rounds...and even through two scoreless games of the finals.
Even so, you can't help but get the feeling that time is running out on the Pens.
Two shutout losses in Detroit have demonstrated how complete a hockey club the Red Wings are. And how much more the Pens need to improve to even compete with this club.
At the start of the series, one of my major concerns was that the Penguins really hadn't been in a position were they had to play their best for more than a game or two leading up to the finals.
Now, they are in a position where they essentially have to play their best...most likely better than they have ever played before...for 4 of the next 5 games.
...but VERY unlikely.
The Pens are on a learning curve. And a very steep one at that. They are being taught the finer points of positioning and puck movement by the team that is clearly the best in the league at both.
They are being taught what the Red Wings already know...and what they seem to utilize to their advantage on every play..YOU CAN'T OUTSKATE THE PUCK.
When you watch the finals, you get the feeling the Wings are faster...or better skaters...or better defensively.
While all of these things may be true...the real reason it appears that way is Detroit's almost unreal ability to position themselves for success on every play...and then move the puck quickly to put the opposition on it's heals.
It almost seems like the Pens neeed to skate harder...or faster...
But no, I don't think it's a question of the Pens needing to skate harder...it's a question of them needing to skate smarter.
The Wings are simply the best at making sure all skaters...ESPECIALLY those that are not carrying or near the puck, are in the proper position to turn the play in their favor in an instant.
And an instant is all it takes for the Wings to begin their attack. Once they get the puck, it seems that it is moved to the next player or advantageous open space before the Pens even have time to react. Like a great chess player...always a move or two ahead of his opponent.
It seems almost hopeless watching the Pens try and react. And in reality...it is. Because no matter how hard you try, you just can't skate faster than the puck. You can't REACT quickly enough to make a difference.
The Pens do have hope though. If they can learn quickly enough how to position themselves and pass the puck in the same way that the Wings do, they have a chance to make this a series. If they could do those things, then they would certainly take away the Wings ability to control the play as often, which would at least give them a fighting chance.
But time is certainly running out in that respect as well.
Ice...Game three will be the deciding game. The Pens have come up against a healthy team, lets see how they do on their home ice.Nice blog!!!
Good blog -- I'm pulling for the Wings but more than anything would like to see a competitive series. phi1671 -- is the comment about the Pens coming up against a healthy team a veiled suggestion that the Flyers might be in the SCF if not for injuries ? I hate the Pens, but they were the best team in the East this year.
MadCap...i'm stating a fact...I wish the Senators and the Rangers would have given the Pens more of a game. This way The Pens could've gauged how well they would do if they lost a few games compared to just ONE...If i remember correctly they have not been shut out until now and they have not had the bounces they got in the last 3 series. Once again...people can't see hockey to what it is...they just see a Flyers fan picking on the Pens. Detroit has faced adversity and has come out on top. They have lost more then one game and has been tested. They have even switched goalies in the playoffs. See the difference!?
phi1671 -- Through 2 games, I have seen a team (the Pens) thoroughly dominated by what appears to be a superior team in the Red Wings. I don't view this as having anything to do with what the Pens did/didn't have to deal with as they cruised through the Eastern Conference. Does a little adversity along the way make a team stronger ? Maybe, but in this case I just see that the Pens are up against an opponent which is in a different league than the Sens, Rangers, Flyers.
Good comments...but I don't think it's so much about losing games as it it is about needing to play a complete game. No disrespect to the teams we have faced before the Wings, but none of them made the Pens play hard AWAY from the puck like the Wings do. EDZO made a perfect point in a replay last night when he said that Malone needs to find open space (just as an example). Against the Sens/Ranger/Flyers, in that situation, Malone was able to coast and somebody else would be open...not so against the Wings. And that is not to point the finger at Malone...it's just an example of how a complete team effort is required to beat a complete team. And until now, the Pens have probably gotten away with only having to do that on a few occasions. Now their play away from the puck is more important, but they are not used to that being the case. Does that make sense? I think if you have played the game before, it's easier to understand what I am saying. You need to be in the right spot 100% of the time against the Wings because they seem to be there 99% of the time.
Adversity has everything to do with making a team play better. A team can not gauge there true potential if they do not face any type of adversity.Either way everyone will have there own opinions. Wings are a complete team and healthy. Ice you just said it...they are not being used to that...losing in some ways brings you back down to earth and gets you to regroup. The Pens are now back down to earth. It will be interesting to see how they do at home.
We'll see how much the 8-0 record at Mellon holds water. If the Wings get into penalty trouble or if the reffs juice it up it could make it a game. I think the first Stuart goal last night may have shaken up Fleury a little. Its better to get beat clean than to get a piece and be overpowered.