Blog Entry

Humble pie

Posted on: June 13, 2009 2:48 pm
Not to go all John Kerry on everyone, but I was right before I was wrong. See for yourself on our Finals series page. Before the Stanley Cup rematch started I picked the Penguins to win in seven games.

So I was right.

Of course I declared them dead -- I believe the terms I used were 'done, kaput, fini,' -- so I was wrong too. Not that I was the only one among the media types covering the series to think that, just the only one to actually write it.

Oh well.

I've taken a lot of heat from all those rabid Penguins fans since then and deservedly so. But I figured the Penguins had to win one of the first two games in Detroit when the Red Wings were banged up and still worn after a short turnaround from the Chicago series. My logic, if you can call it that now, was that since Pittsburgh had to win at least one game on the road, that was the best opportunity to do it. I couldn't see them beating Detroit four out of five after that, particularly since Pittsburgh played as well or better than the Red Wings in both of those games, yet could not find a way to win.

It seemed like a sign of inevitability for the Red Wings. And it made me think of something Mario Lemieux said after last year's finals, alluding to what is essentially hockey conventional wisdom about needing to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win. My original prediction was based on my belief that Pittsburgh had indeed learned what it would take to beat a veteran and savvy team like Detroit, but I had serious doubts after the first two games because it was the Red Wings who found a way to come out on top when they probably should not have.

The Penguins, of course, kept insisting they were a different team this year, and the confidence they exuded coming home obviously turned out to be not misplaced. Still I think it might have been a different final outcome had Jordan Staal not scored a shorthanded goal that turned Game 4 around and triggered a series tying win that sent Pittsburgh on its way.

Staal, along with other role players Tyler Kennedy and certainly Game 7 hero Maxime Talbot turned out to be the catalysts for the Penguins as the series got down to crunch time, really stepping it up after Detroit had essentially shut down Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. But what is really interesting to me about the series was how good the Penguins were defensively.  Pittsburgh's game took on a more aggressive tone after Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as coach, and it suited its talent much better. and led to a strong finish and even stronger playoff run. 

The hard forechecking forced the Red Wings into several uncharacteristic and critical turnovers during the Finals, but  more impressive was the way the Penguins stopped Detroit by keeping it to the outside and refusing to give up lanes. Pittsburgh absolutely shut down the Red Wings over the last two games, a tribute not only to its underrated group of defenseman and two dynamite clutch efforts by Marc-Andre Fleury, but also of the willingness of the forwards to come back and sacrifice their bodies to block shots.

The Penguins physicality also played a big role in all this, with their constant pounding wearing down the Red Wings over the course of the series until Detroit really was running on fumes at the end. Still, with the exception of the Penguins win in Game 3 adn Detroit's Game 5 blowout, this series was close enough and had enough momentum shifts to have gone either way.

Which means that clearly the Penguins did learn the hard lessons from last year, the ones I doubted they did after Game 2. They figured out what it takes to win and earned this Stanley Cup victory with their hard work, will and their guts, as much as with their talent. Now they get to reap the glory and I get to reap the scorn.

So enjoy it all Pittsburgh fans. I'm going to get some sleep. 

Category: NHL

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 8:26 pm

Humble pie — Watch Crosby as the third man in, Valabik is down, he throws a punch to the back of the head, then punches him in the taint ... no suspension because he is the most protected player in hockey!

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 8:11 pm

Humble pie

crosby is a diving, whining bitch.

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 7:58 pm

Humble pie

oops malkin did not get suspended and should have.

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 7:53 pm

Humble pie

lets have the two teams fully healthy and see what happens. i guarantee if crosby was hurt games 1 and  2 would not be back to back right after the pens won the eastern conference finals. like i said the better does not always win but whatever. even though this is true i am probably gonna be considered a whiner but whatever. too bad malkin did get the suspension he was suppose to.

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 9:37 am

Humble pie

thats right the pens won and the wings are 1st loser, and i guess that makes you the better team? if thats what helps you feel better then go for it. 

Since: Oct 10, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2009 8:29 am

Humble pie

Easy to be a redwing fan now. They've won 4 cups in 15 years and contended that whole time. I'd be careful who a Detroit fan calls a bandwagon member. Hoping for the red wings is a little like being a yankee fan only with more success to show for it. The Red Wing fans I respect are the ones who lasted through the Howe to Yzerman drought. Those were some horrific hockey teams and that was a 20 year stretch of mediocrity or worse. Surprisingly enough it was tricky to find red wing fans in those days. If the red wings are out of the playoffs for 10 years and you're still a fan maybe you can start ragging on bandwagon jumpers. A stanley cup champion will have more fans then an also ran. It's a law of nature. Following the red wings for the last 15 years of talented teams and great perfromances isn't exactly like being Moses in the wilderness.  

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: June 16, 2009 5:57 pm

Humble pie

pitt may have won but detroit is still the better team. thats why they play.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: June 15, 2009 7:35 pm

Humble pie

Not to go all John Kerry on everyone, but I was right before I was wrong. See for yourself on our Finals series page. Before the Stanley Cup rematch started I picked the to win in seven games.
Should have shown some conviction instead of being a flip-flopping wuss, Wes. 

As a Pens fan, I would like to ignore the rest of Wes's flip-floppity dribble and move on to a comment about the Red Wings being dead.  Not hardly.  The Red Wings, becuase of their tradition, attract a lot of top-notch free agent talent (like MaryAnn Hossa).  Players who have made their money elsewhere will go to Detroit for a postgame juice box and sugar cookie just so they can win a Stanley Cup.  Don't hold your breath waiting for the Wings to collapse!

Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: June 15, 2009 7:19 pm

Humble pie

Thats what they said last year too, the Pens would be lucky to make past the second round...interesting enough, they made it to the final and BEAT the mighty WINGS.

And talk about Bandwagon fans, the Pens have sold out 112 consecutive home games; that is almost 3 seasons of the Wings fans only show up for the playoffs?  I am almost positive they did not sell out a game until the ens of the season.

Since: Mar 12, 2008
Posted on: June 15, 2009 5:36 pm

Humble pie

Yeah they do and they just beat the 1st place Detroit Tigers. Now don't get all kinds of butt hurt, I'm from Detroit.

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