Red Wings Take Game 1
In a seven game series game two is hardly a must win situation but seeing the Red Wings dominate the first game against Pittsburgh it seems that unless the Penguins get their game in gear quickly this series could get away from them and the NHL might end up with a short Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh doesn’t have to win Monday night (8pm on Versus) but they need to play much better than the horrible display of hockey they brought to Motown on Saturday night. Penguins Coach Michel Therien was right when he called it the Penguins worst performance of the playoffs.
As I have been saying all year, Detroit is a very good hockey team and they did the thing they do best on Saturday night: keep control of the puck. Detroit won 53% of the face-offs (35-31) and out shot the Penguins, 36-19, in the 4-0 win. The Penguins only had 7 shots on goal after a strong first period in which they had three full two minute power plays but did not score. Basically the Wings took the life out of Pittsburgh after the first period.
Chris Osgood was outstanding in net for Detroit, especially in the first period, while Marc-Andre Fleury was so-so for Pittsburgh (he got caught out of position on Mikael Samuelsson’s wrap around goal and his indecision on playing the puck led to Daniel Cleary’s game clinching third goal late in the third period). The speedier Wings took advantage of defensemen Hal Gill’s lack of speed and the inexperience of his defensive partner, Rob Scuderi, who were both a minus two in the series opener.
Pittsburgh will insert Gary Roberts back into the lineup tonight and take out tough guy George Laraque. This should help the Penguins because Roberts is very experienced and goes hard to the net. Detroit likely gets Johan Franzen back in the lineup as well. Franzen, who has 12 goals in the playoffs this year, hasn’t played since game one of the Western Conference Finals against Dallas due to concussion like symptoms.
The Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey Leauge (WHL) defeated the host Kitchener Rangers (Ontario Hockey League) last night, 4-1, to capture the Memorial Cup. Chiefs goalie Dustin Tokarski, who is currently ranked No.9 among North American goalies for next month’s NHL entry draft, was outstanding once again stopping 53 shots after previously thwarting Kitchener, 2-1, in their round robin game last Sunday night (Tokarski made 36 saves in that game). The highly skilled Rangers carried much of the play but the opportunistic Chiefs took advantage of costly Kitchener penalties and defensive breakdowns in taking a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
Drayson Bowman, a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, Judd Blackwater and defenceman Trevor Glass scored for the Chiefs with Jared Cowen adding an empty-net goal. Cowen, a big mobile defenseman, will be eligible for the NHL entry draft in 2009 and likely will be a top three or five pick.
A U.S.-based team won the Canadian Hockey League championship for only the fourth time in its history after Spokane (1991) and Portland (1983 and ’98). The 2009 Memorial Cup will be held in Rimouski, Que. The WHL has won the Memorial Cup 18 times, the OHL 11 and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) seven. The Memorial Cup trophy has been handed to the junior hockey champion since 1919 in honor of those who died in the First World War. Former Kitchener Rangers and Memorial Cup winners Derek Roy (2003) of the Buffalo Sabres and three time Stanley Cup Champion Scott Stevens (1982) took part in the pre-game ceremonial puck drop.