Welcome to Illegal Curve's live Game 2 blog of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings..... For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.
**Red Wings lead the series 1-0**
Pre-Game Notes.... Teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals have won 78% of the time since the NHL adopted a Best-of-Seven format..... In other words, 53 of 68 Finals since 1939 have gone to the team winning the all-important first game...... Pens veteran forward Gary Roberts replaces Enforcer Georges Laraque in the line-up....... Wings Left Winger Johan Franzen (12 goals, 3 assists in 2008 NHL Playoffs) is back in the line-up after missing six games with post concussion-like symptoms.....
3:00 into the First Period - The pace of the opening period of Game 2 is quite frantic with both teams displaying the type of skating and athleticism that was expected by most hockey pundits and hockey enthusiasts. The Red Wings have had a few shots from the outside, courtesy of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Samuelsson, but Marc-Andre Fleury. The Pens, on the other hand, have yet to register a shot.
6:20 into the First Period- Pens uber-superstar Sidney Crosby continues to be smothered by the tight-checking Detroit Red Wings defense corps, and specifically Brett Lebda.
Writer's Note: When Crosby swings his stick in frustration at Lebda like he just did, you know he wishes he had a lot more room out there.
6:55 into the First Period- Evgeni Malkin coughs up the puck in the neutral zone, resulting in a takeaway. On an innocent looking play in the Penguins defensive zone, Brad Stuart takes a nifty pass from Valteri Filppula and blasts a mediocre slap shot which eludes Marc-Andre Fleury. The goal is Stuart's first of the postseason.
Writer's Note: Malkin had one hand on his stick and must start playing more intelligently in the neutral zone. Stuart's shot was half-decent but could have easily been stopped by Fleury.
8:00 of the 1st - Pens d-man Rob Scuderi gets highsticked in the face by teammate Hal Gill, as he was checking Filpulla. Scuderi is bloodied as he took Gill's blade right in the forehead.
Writer's Analysis: Oy Vey. Did the 6'7'' Hal Gill just high stick his own defense partner? That was painful to watch. The Penguins are struggling to get anything going offensively and seem to be running around like a bunch of contestants on Supermarket Sweep in their own zone.
11:18 into the First Period- Wings Playoff Stalwart Tomas Holmstrom taps in a rebound off of a Henrik Zetterberg backhand that slipped through the pads of Fleury. Detroit takes a 2-0 lead at the Joe Louis Arena and looks to be in absolute control of the game.
11:33 into the First Period- Brad Stuart takes a silly tripping penalty, putting Pittsburgh on the power play, where they struggled so badly in Game 1.
13:00 into the First Period- The Penguins have some pressure in the Wings Zone on their power play but fail to get many quality shots. With 30 seconds left in the power play, the Penguins continue to have stage fright under the bright lights of the Stanley Cup Finals
15:14 of the First Period- Ryan Malone takes a lazy interference penalty. The shots are currently at 11-3 in favour of the Red Wings. Early in the power play, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are buzzing around like a bunch of killer bees, but Detroit fails to get many shots on net.
17:49 of the 1st- Daniel Cleary takes a hooking penalty. The shots are 12-3 in favour of Detroit and the Penguins could really use something to build on going into the second period.
Gary Roberts has the best chance of the Penguins power play when he has two whacks at the puck in front of Chris Osgood but then takes a roughing penalty with 14 seconds left in the period, thus ending the Pens powerplay.
The Joe Louis Arena buzzer sounds and the Wings have a 2-0 lead after one period. The shots after the first period are 12-6 in favour of the Red Wings.
Writer's First Period Analysis: The first period goes to Detroit in a unanimous decision. Detroit gets early goals from Stuart and Holmstrom and manhandles the Penguins young guns in their own end. The best example of how dominant the Wings were in the First Period was shown during Pittsburgh's second power play when Niklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski simply did not let Crosby, Malkin, Malone or Hossa set up in the slot for chances on Osgood.
Stay tuned for Period 2....
For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.