Here we go.
Last year's Game 3 was a good hockey game. I can say this now after a year has passed and I know the outcome of that series.
It's Noon and I'm already too anxious to do much of anything. Namely, string paragraphs of thought together. I'm going straight to the bullets before my head falls off:
- As this is being typed, there is no significant update on Datsyuk. Numerous places have said it looks like he's a game-time decision. It looks like he's probably going to sit out. Up 2-0 or not, I'm struggling to cope with this. It sucks.
- Wings have got to be better at neutralizing the Penguins' forecheck, because eventually those chances are going to be capitalized on. This was the main reason why the Wings have been out-shot. They have, at times, been in a "bend but don't break" defensive mode as the Pens have maintained puck possession in a way that no team has done against the Wings in eons.
- Babcock should start Hossa, just so he can get booed mercilessly during the pregame introductions. No doubt it would rev him up a bit. Then he'd score a couple of goals, maybe pick up an assist or two, and after the game he can come back out on the ice with a microphone and tell the 17,000 in attendence to kiss his balls.
- Crosby has no points, which to the uneducated means "he has sucked", but this is far from the truth. I think it's possible that Hank is doing a good job defending/frustrating him, while at the same time Crosby is still playing well -- just not as well as he's used to. One particular shift of his comes to mind, when the Wings had the unfavorable matchup of the Maltby/Abdelkader/Leino line on a defensive zone faceoff. Crosby tried to take advantage and was possessed in his pursuit of the puck, and eventually the effort generated a scoring chance (well I can't remember if it was a "scoring chance" per se but it was definitely an "oh shit" moment.)
- I don't know about you, but I really like Dan Bylsma. Is that weird? Liking the enemy coach? It's hard not to when he says things like this:
Q. Discounting the final 19 seconds of the second game, there had only been five minor penalties called in the first two games of this series. Do you think the officiating started has changed from the regular season, and does this favor one team or the other in this series?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the Red Wings power play numbers stand for themselves in terms of whether we want them to get more power plays or less. Our power play has been good in the last second half of the playoffs here. They’re talented players.
But I think the standard that’s been called in the game has been fair. I mean, is there penalties on each side ?? as a coach, you can go through the game and say that was a penalty, that wasn’t a penalty. But if you’re honest, you can usually say that about both sides.
You know, as a coach, you typically want to point out the ones that their team does against yours and you rarely want to point out the ones that your team does against theirs. So I think the standard on the ice has been pretty consistent for both teams.
Both coaches are classy, stand-up guys. Given the tendency to push for calls that certain coaches during the playoffs have had, this is refreshing. He thinks "the standard that's been called has been fair". Funny that he's getting paid to win and can still be this level-headed, whereas a portion of the fanbase can't bring themselves to do the same.
- Mirtle has an excellent post up detailing Crosby's opposition through the first two games.
"One of the big differences now that the series shifts to Pittsburgh is the fact that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma gets last change, and a major advantage there is going to be getting Sidney Crosby away from some of the relentless checking he's faced. Expect the Pens captain to be double shifted and put on other lines in order to get him away from Zetterberg and Lidstrom, who he's matched up with the majorty of the first two games."
- Sammy was absent at the morning skate for the Wings today. MacLeod says that Draper was "practicing as though he was going to play".
Hudler is back up on Zetterberg's line. Perhaps they're anticipating not nearly as much Crosby time for that line and thus a defensive droppoff from Cleary to Hudler is palatable. The fourth and second lines remain intact. The new third line with Draper and Cleary on the wings is a pretty good checking unit if they're out for much time against Malkin or Crosby.
As for the Penguins:
Let's get a win, dammit. Maybe that's greedy, wanting a win so bad when you're already up 2-0. There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting a split in Pittsburgh.
But 3-0 would feel so fucking great.
Johan Franzen = monster game tonight. Go Wings.