So what's the deal here, Red Wings fans? Series is tied 2-2 and the Wings have looked bad for 4 games. If not for some lucky bounces in games 1 and 2, the Pens would have skated the cup last night. I wince at the thought. As a hockey fan, I have had Crosby's image forced in my face for 4 years now. Even when the Pens lose, there's his smiling face reminding me why "a free hand" is suddenly "Holding" after years of players having to actually work to get points. (Don't get me wrong, the kid is awesome and he does work hard. But pre-lockout rules and I don't see him getting 70 points in a season.) After the Red Wings won the cup last year AGAINST Pittsburgh and Crosby, I added the commemorative DVD to my collection and what am I greeted by? An NHL ad telling me about an upcoming feature of Crosby where cameras would follow him around and show us what it's like to be the face of the NHL. And for some reason, I can't skip past it! For some reason, it's the one part of the DVD that you can't fast forward or skip past. All i can do is hit mute and close my eyes! Look, I can handle the Wings losing in the cup finals. It happened in 95 and I survived. For every cup victory, there's been two that they really should have or at least could have won. The problem with losing to Pittsburgh is that with the NHL and Bettman forcing Crosby on us after he has won nothing, imagine what we'll see when he wins. Just imagine seeing him hoist the cup during every possible highlight for the next 20 years. Do any non-Pittsburgh fans want this? Very few if any. Then again, do Red Wings haters want to see 5 cups in the last 12 years? Lesser of the two evils in my opinion!
Ok, how do we prevent the NHL poster boy from actually accomplishing something? Here are my thoughts:
1. Pavel must play in game 5. Zetterberg has been great against Crosby despite his 2 points Thursday night, but Malkin has had way to much room out there. He needs Pavel in his face, keeping him off the score sheet. Even if Pavel doesn't actually score, he will be a huge lift for the team in their own zone.
2. No more turnovers! It's never ok to turn the puck over to a fast group like Pittsburgh, but in our own end? That's begging for disaster.
3. Hustle. Helm should be wearing an A on his sweater at this point. He's not the only Red Wing that's trying, but he is definetly setting the standard. Watch the goal by Staal and notice at the blue line that Rafalski has perfect positioning. Then watch as Staal starts skating hard and Rafalski does not. A lot of people are saying "Ozzie should have had that one." Maybe, but Ozzie should not have had to face it in the first place.
4. Special Teams. Really? Our PK is 50%? How can you have a PK that bad with the names we have out there? I'll tell you: Not clearing the puck! The half that we actually killed off, The Wings cleared pucks and denied entrance to their zone. The half that we let in, we didn't clear the puck. Sure, a few offsides here and that that went uncalled didn't hurt either, but give me a break...
5. Officiating. Keep it the way it is!
That's really all I have at this point. I think if the Wings will solve 4 of those 5 points, we'll take the series in 6. If not, then we'll be stuck with the image of Crosby lifting the cup over his soft, protected head for the next 20 years... OMG... GO RED WINGS!