May 27, 2008

A reason to hate the Penguins

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Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2
Red Wings 3-0 Pittsburgh


Before this series had started I felt that I needed some sort of reason to hate the Penguins. Ideally, I don't want to like anything about a team that we're trying to win a championship against. But I had little problem with them up until this point: I was rather indifferent on Sydney Crosby while thinking that he seemed kind of like a bratty teenager, but nothing to extreme. He's pretty fun to watch when he's lighting up defenses and whatnot. I don't hate the city of Pittsburgh, so that's not a viable option. I don't like the Steelers, but that's still not rational enough.

Then we had Game 2. Another total domination by the Red Wings from end to end. It has looked comical at times. I don't mean that to sound pompous -- I just find it funny that so many people could be so wrong about how good the Penguins were (including myself to an extent). If I didn't know any better, I'd venture to say that Pittsburgh's competition hasn't quite been that of the Red Wings' this season. So how does the 'Burgh respond? Goonery. Unabashed goonery. Gary Roberts, taking a sucker punch on Johan Franzen, a dude who's had concussion-like symptoms and shit for the past three weeks. I don't care if it didn't do the damage that he intended, or that that Johan clearly dove (a little gay but whatever). That was bullshit. So was Ryan Malone trying to run Zetterberg -- that whole final 10 minutes was pathetic. If they don't find another answer than to pull that stuff then this series will be over Saturday night. But hey, at least I have a real reason to not like them now. Other thoughts...

- Joe Louis Arena has been really rocking for these first two games. Not up to late '90s standards, but that goes without saying. It's just nice to see it look alive once again.

- Johan: Wow, was I surprised to see Franzen take the ice in the Versus pregame. The latest I had heard, which was roughly 1 or 2 in the afternoon, was that he was out for the game. Not doubtful -- out. So to see him added to the lineup against a team that just lost 0-4 was really encouraging. Not only did he play, but he was affective as well, having the primary assist on Filppula's goal with a tape-to-tape pass from center that helped put the game away. Babcock wasn't coddling him either -- he had 26 shifts and 16+ minutes of icetime.

- The Datsyuk retaliation on Ryan Malone for his cheap shot on Zetterberg was priceless. Then he even mixed it up with that old kook Gary Roberts. People tend to think he's like a gentlemanly knight or something given all of his sportsmanship accolades, but I think this was a concerted effort by him to sway people into NOT voting him for a 3rd straight Gayest Award In Sports: The Lady Byng.

- Filppula's goal: Definitely one of those goals that make me jump out of my chair and run around for a solid minute (although at this time of year pretty much all of them do). The replay further did it justice by showing how he deked under the defenseman's stick to protect the puck, then he capped it off with a Bobby Orr-like finish.

- Brad Stuart: When this blog was still in its infancy and Ken Holland made a deal to swing Brad Stuart, I responded with uncertainty. No, more like immaturely and without thinking. I was more than wrong. Stuart has been good to great in his time with the Wings, and I hope he stays here next season. He'd probably have to take less money, but there is absolutely no place better for him than Detroit. His game is a fit and he's a perfect pairing with Nick Kronwall. Please stay, Brad.

- No even strength shots for Pittsburgh in 1st period. That pretty much sums up how over-matched they've looked during this series so far.

- Don Cherry is losing his mind. I attempted to watch the bit on Sportscenter with he and Melrose and Steve Levy, but my mind started to go numb. Cherry is going on and on about how the Pens are doing nothing, almost like a mysterious ailment is the reason for their woes and not the Wings defense. Levy (and even Melrose, as much as it pains me to give him any credit) even tried to set Cherry up with an attempt to so much as say "the Red Wings are good" just to save face, but he just responded by saying something about Sydney Crosby instead. Just surreal.

- I realize that Osgood isn't going to get any serious praise until he shuts out the Penguins two more times, donates his entire 2008 salary to an earthquake relief fund and goes back in time to give John Wilkes Booth the wrong directions to the Ford Theater, but I still haven't heard one mention of him for Conn Smythe. Maybe I have selective hearing -- I'm throwing that out there. They may have said it and I'm a complete ass. But I've watched every game and haven't heard one thing about it.

- Pittsburgh coach Michel (I'm not even going to look up the spelling of his last name because just calling a grown man "Michel" is good enough for me) is a total cocksucker. Watch the post game material on nhl.com for proof.

- So much for Ryan Malone's presence on the top line. Four penalties and some douche bag-y type of incidents that made the line adjustment look like a complete joke.

- Evgeni Malkin: WHERE IS THIS MAN??!??

- Oh my god, Lilja. In the 2nd period he was knocked over when he attempted to receive a pass, and apparently the momentum of like a 5 ounce puck was too much for him to handle in the open ice. It was incredible to watch. Thankfully we can laugh about this now, because Pittsburgh blew a glorious scoring chance. But still, wow.

- Game 3: biggest of Crosby's career. If they win, it's still a series, but if not -- given the expiring deals they have --that team might not be back next season. Also, they look way overconfident, and by the sounds of Crosby after Game 2, he either doesn't know what has hit them or he legitimately believes everything is A-ok. Pittsburgh now has to take 4 out of 5 against Detroit and they haven't even scored a fucking goal yet.

- I don't care about how good this series is for the NHL. I've come to grips with the fact that hockey's a regional sport, and that its enormous popularity in the 90's was partially aided with things that seemed good for the short term but instead damaged it in the long run, so getting back to where it was 10 to 15 years ago is probably unattainable. As long as the Wings win that's good enough for me.

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Unfortunately that's all the time I have for today, so I can't delve into the Pistons game. Kinda makes me look like a dick for going off when they lose and saying nothing when they win, but what the hell. Also, I'd like to document this date as the date that I have officially given up on the Tigers season. I know they'll probably suck me back in with an 8 out of 10 mini-run and I'll be making that claim all over again, but I thought I'd say it nonetheless. May 27....it's not even fucking June yet and the most hyped season in Tigers history (or at least my lifetime) is already done in my eyes. Sad, sad, sad.

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