Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post Game 1 thoughts


Just some quick hits. Been a long and not too pleasant night. Also, some of these thoughts I had before Game 1.

**First and foremost, let me say history schmistory, OK? Can we stop with the comparisons of the Penguins to the 1984 Oilers? In sports, and hockey in particular, there are few things more irrelevant than history.

To paraphrase former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino from a famous rant of his, Wayne Gretzky is not walking through that door, Jari Kurri is not walking through that door, and Mark Messier is not walking through that door. Even if any of them did, none of them would be suiting up to play for the Penguins right now.

So what if the 1984 Oilers earned a rematch in the Cup finals and won the second meeting? Exactly what benefit is that going to be to the Penguins?

"History is on their side" is pure nonsense. The Ghosts of Hockey Past are not going to take a hand in this series - and if they did, then they're obviously helping the Red Wings with those first two lucky goals and the third that had an element of luck to it. (Note: I'm not complaining, I'm just making a point that the past means nothing.)

Even last year's series shouldn't factor too much into the conversation about this series. The Penguins have a new coach, several new core players and a new playing philosophy. The Red Wings...OK, they're the same except for one more superstar. About the only thing I feel should be written about is Pittsburgh shouldn't have the deer-in-the-headlights look to them this year.

Too often, writers and fans want to do nothing but compare current players or teams to the great ones of the past, in any sport. I don't know if it's lazy reporting (thus not looking for anything else to write about) or what, but it's usually an exercise in silliness and often a waste of time.

I suppose part of it is just the sheer oversaturatedness (I don't know if that's a word) that pervades the sports world these days. With so many television stations, so many writers and so much Internet space, there has to be constant discussion of everything, and inevitably comparisons become the way to go.

Is Sidney Crosby - or for that matter, Alex Ovechkin - better than Wayne Gretzky? You know what? We'll never know unless someone invents a time machine and puts Crosby - or Ovechkin - in Gretzky's position at the start of Gretzky's career. When Gretzky played, it was a different time, a different era, a different league and with different rules.

Can't we just let Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, et al. create their own identities?

(OK, the above wasn't so quick.)

**The Red Wings are beatable, and the Penguins can do it. Two lucky, fluke goals and a third that had some element of luck (Justin Abdelkader's rebound came right back to him) is what mainly separated the two teams Saturday night.

Detroit had a little bit more of a territorial edge and a huge advantage in faceoffs, sure, but I don't think it would be correct to say the Red Wings dominated the Penguins overall. The Wings were better, yes, and deserved the win.

**Did I actually hear talk that the Penguins should be the favorites in the series? More nonsense. To be the champ, you have to beat the champ. (This was a pre-Game 1 thought.)

**Chris Osgood is the most underrated, unappreciated, and most disrespected goaltender in the history of the NHL. He's approaching 400 career wins, is top 10 in playoff wins, top four in playoff shutouts and has backstopped two teams to the Stanley Cup, plus a third as a backup. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Yes, he's benefited from playing much of his career in a top-notch organization with some high quality teams. But a reason why those teams were so good was because of Osgood. You can't be a bad goalie and put up the numbers he has.

Do people remember Detroit started with Dominik Hasek in goal last year, but coach Mike Babcock yanked Hasek after four games? Would it be fair to say Hasek's a good goalie? Well, Osgood proved to be better last season.

Osgood might not need to make many saves, but he makes the big ones when he has to, as evidenced by the saves on Malkin and Bill Guerin in the second period. Pittsburgh could've been up 3-1 in the second but instead ended the period down 2-1. And Osgood has done it the entire postseason.

That's all for now.

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