Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.

ABOVE: You're a member of the Detroit Red Wings and you keep having this nightmare about a team of otherworldly androids that won't stop chasing you...ever. Then one day you realize that it's not a nightmare, it's reality!!!

Unlike most of you who were worried to death that the Penguins wouldn't win last night's game, I on the other hand, had the comfort of knowing in advance that my Nostradamus-like prediction would once again come true.

Okay, so it wasn't 100% accurate, but who ever is? For example, I said that the final score of this game (after the Pens were waxed 5-0 in game five) would be 2-0 Pittsburgh, a bold prediction indeed. Well it wasn't 2-0, it was 2-1. By the way, unless you forgot, Nostradamus once made a prediction about a man who would someday cause a world war... his name was "Hister". Hey, he was close too.

Meanwhile, after a tremendous effort last night where bodies were routinely being thrown in front of flying pucks, the Pens now stand very much alive and carrying a fire which looks to be inextinguishable. This team is so deep that its' two superstars can be held completely off the score sheet and still win. In fact, therein may lie the root of Detroit's problem.

How can you not call Jordan Staal an emerging superstar too? Sure, he doesn't put up Sid or Gino-sized numbers, but what a dominant force he is on the ice! His line mates, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke make up a brutally effective unit that Detroit has LOTS of problems with.


ABOVE: You play for the Red Wings: What scares you more, taking a shower in a roach-infested motel room in Detroit or playing the Penguins in game seven?

A case can also be made for Max Talbot too. How big has he been? Ruslon Fedotenko has also had a tremendous series. You can just go on and on. And that's the problem if you're Detroit. They have the unenviable task of trying to shake the team that wouldn't go away. That loss in game five? It was a good thing! Trust me, the Pens don't ever want to experience that feeling in Detroit again. The wound is still so fresh that you can bet that they will hit the ice with a zeal that will leave the Red Wings gasping for air..

Anybody who thinks that the Pens will come into this game tentatively doesn't realize the depth of this team's intensity. I expect a controlled violence behind the net where the Penguins will repeatedly punish the more finesse-oriented Red Wings as was done last night.

Also, has anyone noticed the lack of production by Marian Hossa? Does anyone else think he might be injured? There's no way he's the same player that he was last year. He possibly may have a groin injury or knee strain because he simply does not have the same jump in his skates. This is "Too bad" for him and Detroit.

How about the hit by Matt Cooke on Pavel Datsyuk? Players don't forget those kinds of hits...ever. Datsyuk now knows that like Hossa, he's a marked man. He won't be afraid like the guy above, but he'll be thinking about it nevertheless.


LEFT: Tell me that you wouldn't be concerned if this bird was perched night and day in front of your house, watching your every move? This is what the Detroit Red Wings are living through right now. That ever-present bird, in this case a Penguin, covets the same prize. It just won't go away.

If you're a Penguins player you can go into "The Joe" with the attitude that, "We've already had our triple dose of bad luck here. "Hidden vigorish" says that's going to change right now." Also, the fact that this team has now taken this series further than last year's club and 60 minutes from a championship has to have whet their appetite even more to finally hold the beloved Stanley Cup.

You could see it written all over the Penguin players' faces last night. Sidney Crosby had a look where he would have laced up his skates again right then and there if Detroit would have played. However, one of the more striking interviews I heard was with the recently-activated Petr Sykora. Sykora has been a healthy scratch for quite some time, but last night, Dan Bylsma decided to play him. He's been a successful shooter who has been mired in a prolonged slump that was probably fed by a nagging shoulder injury.

Sykora spoke about the terrible memories he's had of losing the Stanley Cup in a seventh game earlier in his career. He spoke of how he has so often questioned himself as to whether he could have done more or ever get a chance to redeem himself. Sykora, speaking softly, said that before last night he was afraid that he wouldn't get back on the ice in this series. Now, flash back to images of Sykora throwing himself in front of shots, diving to the ice, not caring for his own personal safety, but wanting that cup. Sykora never said last night that he was injured, but apparently after taking off his skates his foot said otherwise. The Pens announced today that Sykora is out for game seven with a broken foot. Sykora, for as brief as his chance was, had left it all on the ice for his team. Regardless of Friday's outcome, he'll never have to question himself again. Maybe this time he'll get his name engraved on the cup. His contribution will be neither a goal or an assist, but a blocked shot and broken bone.

If you're the Detroit Red Wings, I'm sure that you're very concerned that you couldn't stick that final pitchfork into this team, but it's too late now. You have to play a game seven against a team that will not die. But it's too late. Now you have to face the grim reality. Be afraid, be very afraid.
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ABOVE: Did you ever look in your rear view mirror at night and see something as scary as this? I'm sure that you haven't, unless you're currently a member of the Detroit Red Wings team, in which case I'd like to ask you to log out immediately! Yes, this object is definitely closer than it may appear.