“Barring a collapse, the Red Wings will win their second straight Stanley Cup, fifth in twelve years, and 12th in team history. And Osgood, who’s been amazing in every round, will be the hands down Conn Smythe winner.”

 

The Stanley Cup, presumably, is still safe and sound in its case in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The old chalice gets out a lot, but there’s time for it to be a shut-in, too.

Its rest, though, is about to be disturbed.

If Sidney Crosby doesn’t get it going soon–and by soon I mean now–then the handlers of the Cup will trudge down to its case, lug it out, and pack it away in its metal trunk for a trip to Pittsburgh.

Wednesday morning, as a matter of fact. Day after tomorrow.

For the Cup must be on hand for Game Four at Mellon Arena, just in case, if the Penguins don’t find a way to snatch Game Three on Tuesday night.

This is when the Cup gets disturbed and flown from city to city, pending the outcomes of the Finals games.

But the Penguins can grant the most treasured and storied trophy in sports a couple more days rest if they can somehow will the hockey gods to turn their fortunes around soon.

Once again, soon means now.

NBC, the network that, around this time of the year, must stand for Nothing But Crosby, must feel like they just planned and threw a party for a guest of honor who never showed up.

The Detroit Red Wings, once again at the Finals, are using their famous cephalopodic heritage to turn Sid the Kid into Sid the Squid.

No points thru two games, Crosby has, after the Red Wings’ 3-1 win in Game Two, an eerily similar experience to Game One.

To wit: the Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader, who 24 hours earlier–almost literally–scored his first ever professional goal of any kind at 2:46 of the third period, scored again, at 2:47 of the third period.

Both goals gave the Red Wings a 3-1 lead in games where the one-goal margin looked about as safe as room temperature mayonnaise.

I’m not sure where one goes to get some puck luck, but the Penguins sure better find some of it, and soon.

Altogether now: soon means now.

The Red Wings, right now, seemed to have stored away a cache of this puck luck when no one was looking, waiting to break it out on a rainy day.

In Game One, it was the trickiness of the Joe Louis Arena end boards and Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s backstabbing leg pads that did Pittsburgh in to the tune of two goals.

In Game Two, the goalposts looked at the Penguins shooters, looked at Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, and decided that the only things getting behind Ozzie that night would be their support.

The pucks sure didn’t, save one.

Bill Guerin hit a goalpost, in the second period. Dead-on the iron.

Crosby hit a goalpost in the third period. But that wasn’t all.

Crosby’s shot caromed across the goal crease, perilously close to the red line and Osgood’s skate, somehow ended up back onto Sid’s stick, and he zinged it back into the pile of bodies that had now gathered.

Funny–that’s the kind of play that a scorer like Crosby routinely buries. He need only have lifted the puck a few inches, and he would have been on the board and off the schneide.

Instead, NBC has to wait for a Game Five (not so fast) to throw another party for Sid, to see if he graces everyone with his presence.

Games Three and Four are on Versus, the only TV network I know of whose name is also a preposition.

Here’s a preposition for you: by.

As in, shouldn’t Crosby have scored by now?

“You see him everywhere,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said at Media Day on Friday, referring to the NHL’s pumping of Crosby in its TV ads. “Sometimes I wonder if they know that we won it (the Stanley Cup) last year.”

Of course, it’s still relative early. Crosby could still go off, and before you know it, this series is tied up.

Could happen.

But the Red Wings have done a masterful job, so far, of bottling up The Kid.

The other Pens superstar, Evgeni Malkin, has a goal and an assist. And a fight.

Frustration boiled over at the end of Sunday night’s game, with Malkin asking Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg for a dance.

As is usually the case when two non-fighters scrap, it wasn’t much. But it did signal Malkin’s frame of mind, and of course the JLA crowd ate it up.

Osgood was phenomenal, again, in the Red Wings’ net.

I don’t have a vote for the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), but I have a hunch that Osgood’s name is about to be associated with it.

Barring a collapse, the Red Wings will win their second straight Stanley Cup, fifth in twelve years, and 12th in team history. And Osgood, who’s been amazing in every round, will be the hands down Conn Smythe winner.

There’s no one else even close, frankly.

Ozzie’s counterpart, Fleury, is becoming a little goat-ish.

There were the end boards hijinks on Saturday, and Abdelkader’s knuckle-puck shot on Sunday fluttered over the goalie’s shoulder like a butterfly.

Those are the kinds of goals you simply cannot give up when the stakes are this high.

They say that a best-of-seven series doesn’t truly break out until a team wins a game on the road. And, traditionally, Game Three is the toughest for the team that’s leading 2-0 to get.

When I spoke to the NHL Network’s Larry Murphy after Sunday’s morning skate, he told me that Game Two, to him, is the most important game of a series because it’s the first game when one of the two teams is facing any adversity.

Using that logic, the Penguins face a ton of it right now.

If they lose Sunday, Murphy told me, “Then the Penguins have to do whatever they can to make some sort of series out of this.”

Having the NHL’s Chosen One chip in with a goal or two might be nice, if you’re a Penguins fan.

Maybe Detroit fans could send Crosby a post card.

Having a great time at The Finals, Sid. Wish you could be here!

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