The first thing I noticed after walking into the Joe tonight was the overall atmosphere. Not as boisterous or electric as before Game One. My sense was that the fans were on edge–definitely nervous and anxious.
As for the game itself, this was a period that the Penguins owned in the opening minutes, and the Red Wings counter-punched.
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blinked first, though, in the battle of netminders.
A few minutes after a key Detroit penalty kill, newly-returned Pavel Datsyuk (who’s playing on the same line as Henrik Zetterberg tonight) brought the puck up ice and feathered a soft pass to Daniel Cleary, who took a few strides over the blue line and snapped a shot from between the circles that beat Fleury cleanly.
That goal, on top of giving the Red Wings that oh-so-important 1-0 lead, was like a fresh supply of oxygen to the folks here at the Joe.
All was OK again, for the time being, in Hockeytown.
Was talking to longtime Detroit News columnist Jerry Green before the game, and Jerry told me that the fans in Detroit seem to think the Red Wings are the “chosen ones” every year, and should win the Cup every time they appear in the Finals.
We’ve become Montreal, in other words–the way Montreal used to be.
Maybe. But the Red Wings should win this series because, I believe, they’re the better team, overall.
I picked Detroit in seven, and there’s no use going back on that now.
The Penguins must be thinking, “Here we go again in Detroit. We carry the play and still we trail.”
That’s what the Red Wings can do to you–when they’re not dominating you and playing keepaway with the puck.
This hasn’t been a traditional Red Wings playoff series. They’re not so much playing a puck possession game as much as a “let’s wait for our opportunities and capitalize on them” kind of game. Been that way throughout this series.
Hey, whatever works, right?