The end boards at Joe Louis Arena are having a career night.
They’ve assisted on both Red Wings goals, and Detroit leads, 2-1, after 40 minutes of Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.
In the first period, it was Brad Stuart’s seemingly harmless wrister off the end boards that turned deadly for the Pens after the puck bounced in off goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s right leg.
In the second period–a period in which the Penguins probably deserved a better fate–Brian Rafalski slammed a slap shot wide of the net, the puck did its usual boogaloo off the boards at the Joe, and Johan Franzen tapped it past a sprawled Fleury at 19:02.
The Penguins played a much better period, out-shooting the Red Wings 13-11 and having the majority of the quality scoring chances.
One that comes to mind is Evgeni Malkin’s penalty shot-like breakaway early in the period, which Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood foiled with a quick glove.
The Red Wings know darn well how to play the boards at JLA, and they use that knowledge unabashedly in their favor.
The Penguins are certainly playing a much stronger Game One than they did in 2008’s Finals, but they find themselves having to play catch up, nonetheless.
Quick observations: the Red Wings are doing a good job getting in the way of Pittsburgh’s passing lanes, and goalie Chris Osgood has once again shrugged off a bad goal, which Ruslan Fedotenko’s was in the first stanza.
The Penguins seem to be a more physical, less finesse team than they were last year, which Osgood mentioned at Media Day on Friday.
Overall, it seems to be a fairly well-officiated game; the refs are “letting them play” for the most part.