Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fleury? More like a Blizzard

OK, so I am more than a little miffed that I gave the Red Wings approximately five hours of my time last night/this morning only to watch them lose in triple overtime. Now, I know that the Wings have some room for error, but COME ON. They could have won the freakin' cup last night, but instead they played the equivalent of two games and are taking it back to Pittsburgh - not exactly what I would call a GOOD idea.

However, this game was the type of game I expected to see from this series all along. The skating was INSANE - these guys didn't just pull it out in the last five minutes of the third; they skated like maniacs from the get go. I don't know how they lasted six periods at that pace.

The big surprise to me as this series has gone along is the way we (the Wings) have all but shut down Pittsburgh's normally outstanding offense. We're talking about Crosby and Malkin here - our Zetterberg and Datsyuk (and Franzen) are great, but these kids have been crazy good - "kids" being the operative word - Sidney Crosby is only twenty years old, and Evgeni Malkin is only 21 or 22.

Even last night, the outcome of this game didn't come down to flashy goals but to truly outstanding goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has always been good, don't get me wrong - but he took to an entirely new level last night. The Wings outshot the Penguins like a zillion to one (OK, in reality it was something like 54 to 28) and he stopped all but three of those shots - and some of those saves were truly amazing. It's hard to stand out as a goaltender on a team known for flashy scoring (and boasting the player that some would call the next Wayne Gretzky) but Fleury proved that he is not to be overlooked.

Now, obviously the Wings didn't play badly - any team that can hold this team to so few goals in a series and hold them off for almost six periods does not play badly - but Fleury's awesomeness made scoring more than slightly difficult. And let's keep in mind that Malkin didn't exactly bring his "A" game to the Joe last night. If Malkin had been playing like Crosby played, they would have sewn it up in regulation. However, I'd like to give some props to our defense and to Chris Osgood - on two of those four goals, he truly didn't have a chance (including the one that actually came off Jiri Hudler's skate - yeah Hudler, I saw that).

The ironic thing about this series is if the Pens were playing against any other team, I would be rooting for them. But not against my Wings. Plus, I want to see THESE Wings win a cup - a team put together in the era of the salary cap, a team without the famous leadership of Steve Yzerman (not that I don't miss him), a team without the legendary Scotty Bowman behind them on the bench. Not that I didn't love all those elements of the old Wings - but I want the NEW Wings to win a cup.

The median age of the Penguins is something like 27. They have time to win multiple Stanley Cups. And I am hoping that Sidney Crosby - like our Stevie Y. - is the young captain who not only turns around a franchise but stays with that team for the majority (if not his entire) career.

So, while I am disappointed the Wings couldn't close it out last night, I can't deny that this was some good hockey to watch, and Fleury was amazing. But guys, if you could try to win in the Igloo tomorrow night, I would appreciate it - and if you could do it in three periods instead of six, I'd be extra happy.

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