The Detroit Red Wings proved their dominance by handing the woefully inadequate Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-0 loss in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals last night. They did what the Rangers and Flyers proved incapable of: overcoming bad penalties and slanted officiating to play their own game. Detroit took advantage of the many flaws in the Pittsburgh roster to just hammer the league's golden children. It was refreshing and wonderful.
*Dan Cleary's shorthanded goal was one of the most brilliant plays I have ever seen, if only for its simplicity. Win the face off, race up ice while someone bangs the puck in and beat the defender to it. Don't mess around, just put it on net. Fleury didn't have a chance. Immaculate.
*For all the talk about Cindy and Malkin and how they are NHL superstars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg showed how stardom doesn't necessarily equate with skill. The two Wings were wonderful on both sides of the ice - creating on offense and locking down on defense. I've always considered learning how to be a scout, I should move to Detroit and beg Ken Holland or Mark Howe to teach me because they are clearly the masters.
*On that same note, the acquisition of Brad Stuart is looking like the most underrated deadline deal this year. Stuart played 21 minutes, had an assist and was +3 ... not exactly numbers one would expect from a cast off from the Kings.
*Jarkko Ruutu ... It was one thing for Esa Tikkanen to play dirty because he always won. It was another thing for Sean Avery to play dirty because he can also score and leads his team. Jarkko, however, is a piece of garbage with little redeeming qualities. Sure he can score in a shootout, but let's face it, that isn't real hockey. So in a proper game his only usefulness is to try to hurt players. Right after Mikael Samuelsson scored his second goal there was Jarkko to try to take out his knees. There was Jarkko coming around with a late stick. Someone get this jackass off of the ice before he hurts somebody. If Ryan Hollweg can be placed on a "hit to hurt" list, then surely Jarkko warrants extra attention from the stripes.
*Versus, who undeservedly had exclusive rights to broadcast the game in the United States, had absolutely awful production value. After Helm's 1st period penalty, rather than show a replay they dumped to commercial and then came back to pop the intermission show. They never replayed what the call was. When they went to the intermission, they say they were joined by special guest Mark Messier and then turn to Engblom and then Jones for the first two comments. Yeah, I would rather hear from them too.
*I am not sure which bothers me more - hearing Doc and Eddie O openly laud Cindy Crosby all night or the officials blatantly making calls that favour his team ...
*And don't even start to say that they weren't. If you can't see it - like Jonesie who said the stick was in Fleury's waist when it was clearly on the ice - if you actually believe that Holmstrom was interfering with Fleury's ability to save a shot that was over his shoulder on the disallowed goal then you are a Penguins fan and I would be wasting my time trying to explain it to you. The wheels on that bandwagon are just too loud ...
*Remarkably, in the post-game presser, Cindy had the nerve to say that the Penguins didn't get the calls that they "deserved." He went on to say that "if we're moving our feet, we deserve opportunities, we deserve those calls." Hey golden child, you don't deserve anything. The league shouldn't be catering to your every whining cry. Its hockey, play the damn game.
*It was a classy move by the Wings to have both Stevie Y and Super Mario come out to drop the ceremonial pucks. Two great, great hockey players.
*Evgeni Malkin - Did he even make the flight to Detroit?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Dan Cleary - one goal.
2-Chris Osgood - 19 save shutout.
1-Mikael Samuelsson - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Henrik Zetterberg - Big Z had eight shots and a goal while making Cindy look stupid all night. He was a force on both sides of the ice and should enter the conversation for best all-around player in the league with guys like Iggy, Vinny 04, AO and Big Joe.
2-Penalty killers - The penalty killers on both teams were perfect on 10 power plays - and that is saying something as each were facing one of the best power play units in the league. The only goal came late when the game was already decided.
1-Niklas Kronwall - The young, Swedish version of Vlad Konstantinov did what Georges Laraque could not: physically intimidate. Laraque had a big shift early that ended in a scrum before he disappeared completely. Kronwall had at least three huge hits and was a wall all 24 minutes he was on the ice.