Penguins Bring Stanley Home From Detroit

Wow, what a game!  48 hours later and I think everyone in Pittsburgh is still pumped over it.  There are obviously any number of things that can be discussed about it.

1) Max Talbot.  I posted before Game 7 asking who the hero would be.  In terms of scoring it was obviously Talbot, as he scored both Penguin goals.  I can’t say it shocks me, as the guy is full of energy, and the Wings were determined to not let the Pens top stars beat them.  The first goal was a beautiful steal from behind the net and a perfect example of how a game can turn in an instant.  The second goal was a 2-on-1 and a play that Osgood would probably like to have back.  The goalies job is to key on the puck handler and let the defenseman back deny the pass, which he did.  But Osgood got a bit out of position and left Talbot plenty of room high glove side, which he used.

2) Marc Andre Fleury: People have certainly questioned him, and at times they have had reason to.  After Game 5 was not one of those times, because the way that game went he had no chance after the first goal, but he has had weak games in the past.  Not in Game 7; he brought his A Game to Joe Louis Arena.  The last 25 or so minutes of the game the Wings threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at him.  When that didn’t work I think they used a TV timeout to go steal the kitchen sinks from Cobo Hall, Ford Field, Comerica Park, The Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena, Yost Ice House, and whatever Eastern Michigan’s sports facilities are called and throw them at the Pens also.  Fleury stood tall.  He did give up a goal to Ericcson and he did get help from the crossbar, but he stood his ground, most memorably on the Lidstrom shot with 1.5 seconds left.  That save and the save on Cleary to end Game 6 are now the two biggest saves in Penguins history, ranking ahead of Frank Pietrangelo on Bruce Driver.  And I think it cements his reputation as a big game goalie.

3) Sidney Crosby’s injury: That could’ve devasted the Penguins.  But it didn’t.  Talbot’s 2nd goal came after that and the team never lost its poise.

4) The Pens defense: Michel Therrien was fired in February because the team had tuned him out and was playing like crap, but his legacy was obvious the last 2 games of the season.  The Pens weren’t champs until they brought in a coach that let them play to their strengths of speed and offensive skill hounding the other team into submission.  But Therrien laid a foundation of defensive attention to detail and focus that the Lemieux Pens frankly never had.  And they needed every ounce of it to beat the Wings.  Even during that prolonged onslaught the Pens did not crack.  They did an excellent job keeping the play to the periphery along the boards and near the blue line.  They got pucks out of the zone, and then they got pucks deep when they could.  Fleury had to make saves, but he didn’t have to make a gazillion of them.

5) Crosby & Malkin: They didn’t factor much in the scoring in this series.  But they contributed in other ways, in winning face offs, in playing defense, in going all out and keeping the pressure up.  Also, Zetterberg and Lidstrom were so focused on playing defense against them they did not fill nets at their usual pace either.  Also, I hope this series shows that Malkin can most definitely play defense.  His work killing that 2nd of consecutive penalties in Game 4 (when Staal eventually scored the pivotal short-handed goal) certainly showed his value there.

6) Rob Scuderi: Man I hope the Pens can keep him.  He was just fantastic this whole playoff run.  Of course, that probably means someone is going to offer him a lot of money in the offseason.

7) Dan Bylesma: Talk about having the Midas Touch!  This is what owners and GMs dream of when they make midseason coaching changes.  Of course, it usually doesn’t work that well, but the team definitely bought what he was selling them.

8) Everything I forgot to mention here.

Hats off to the Red Wings as well.  As I mentioned above they threw everything they had at trying to get Game 7 even again, and they would’ve had an excellent chance had it gotten to OT, momentum-wise and with Crosby hurt.  Also it was good to see the noticeable number of their fans that remained for the Cup presentation, like Pittsburghers did last year.  They couldn’t help but boo Gary Bettman and that was spilling into Crosby getting the Cup, but that was aimed at The Commish I believe.  Would be fun stuff if these two teams can get back to the Finals again next June and go for the rubber.

Of course, Pittsburgh fans can’t help but chuckle a bit (okay, lol at) at Marian Hossa.  I will choose to let that go, but it will bring some people as much joy as seeing their team win.

Victory parade is Monday in downtown Pittsburgh.  It will start at noon and use the same path the Steelers carved in February.  It will start on Grant St at 7th Avenue, turn right on the Blvd of the Allies, and end at Stanwix St where a stage will be erected for some remarks to be offered.  If you are planning on driving downtown Pittsburgh tomorrow; don’t.  Parkway East and West exits at Grant, Stanwix, and Liberty will be closed to funnel traffic away from the parade route.  I recommend parade-goers park at Station Square and take a Clipper to Point State Park, or take a bus in from Carnegie/Greentree, or maybe park on the North Shore and use your 2 feet.

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