"Years from now the Penguins will lose a tough game,
and someone will say that the loss hurt worse than Game four of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.
And they still won't be right.
These are the type of losses that stay with you, and haunt you.
Shades of JiriHudler could be a phrase you hear when you blow a huge meeting a work.
Did Wings really win, or did the Penguins lose it?
It doesn't matter.
All that matters is that the Red Wings got it done.
And Lord Stanley will be in attendance on Monday evening.
We're not going to lie, the situation is dire.
The chances of winning 3 straight games against the Red Wings are about as close to not possible as it gets.
But there will be no concession.
You can throw Malkin under the bus.
You can make posts about Ty Conklin starting in net on Monday.
The last eight months would mean nothing to us if we did that.
Monday is a nation of Pens fans, against the world.
The ship is sinking, but we are going down to the bitter end.
God help us all."
We hardly even remember what the Hudler goal looks like.
This needs no introduction.
Now we move to 2009.
If you don't know how both teams got here, you're an idiot. No reason to rehash all of it.
All that matters is that we're here.
At some point against the Capitals in the second round, the Talbot-Malkin-Fedotenko line was getting nothing.
Everyone was calling for a change. But Disco stayed true.
And his patience was rewarded. That line, as well as all the others, have been rolling.
We were at Game Two of the Flyers series sitting behind the bench. It was right before OT, and HCDB was walking to the bench. He was just looking up in the crowd. We gave him a cheer, and a head nod. He nodded back.
How cool is that, in the biggest moment of his hockey coaching career at that time,
he is nodding to fans, appreciating the moment.
He doesn't flip out, he doesn't whine in the media. He just goes about his business.
We all await to see if his coaching style is the the key to bringing down the Evil Empire.
If someone asked us to describe Mike Babcock in two words:
Just like Disco stepped in to change the course of the Pens,
Babcock has molded the Wangs into the machine that they are.
He also works the refs like Perez Hilton works Elton John.
Babcock by default. But Disco played for him in Anaheim. Has he stolen the blueprint?
Last year, Babcock got inside of Therrien's head.
Really interesting to see how Disco handles this series.
There is a scene in "Top Gun" where Maverick and Goose get into Top Gun school.
The flight instructor, Viper [ The guy from Picket Fences], says...
In case some of you are wondering who the best is, they're up here on this plaque on the wall. The best driver and his RIO from each class has his name on it, and they have the option to come back here to be Top Gun instructors.[turns to Maverick]..Do you think your name's gonna be on that plaque, Lieutenant?
Maverick says...Yes, sir.
Viper: That's pretty arrogant, considering the company you're in.
Viper: I like that in a pilot. Just remember, when it's over out there, we're all on the same team
That whole exchange reminds us of Bing and Geno. They aren't as arrogant or as gay as Tom Cruise.
But you know that they know they can do whatever they want. And they are going to bang some chick.
We read something that we thought was maybe the best article of the playoffs, via Rob Rossi. [TRIB]
The article is a day old by now, but still. It talks about how great Bill Guerin has been.
The main focus of the article, though, is Guerin jobbing Sidney Crosby within the first few minutes of meeting him:
The way Crosby reacted to Guerin's well-intended comment — to this day, the exact words remain a mystery to dressing-room outsiders — would send a signal to teammates new and old.
"I laughed, because it was funny," Crosby said early in the playoffs of his reaction to Guerin's joke. "The guy is here a few minutes, and he's giving it to me. I couldn't believe it."
In addition to Guerin, the Pens are also bringing two other former Western Conference forwards.
Chris Kunitz was on the last team that beat the Red Wings in the playoffs.
He played for the '07 Ducks that beat the Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
Matt Cooke's presence in this series will be huge.
As good as Ruutu was last year, Cooke hopefully take some big time runs.
You know when you write all that, and you don't mention Staal, Kennedy, or Fedotenko,
that the Pens are deeper than balls. They had no semblance of a third line in the finals last year.
Miro Satan and Patch Adams round out the forwards.
Despite not seeing huge minutes, each have done everything they needed to do.
Max Talbot is lurking.
The scary thing about the Wangs is how deep they are.
Zetterjoke was all over the place last year against the Bing.
And that matchup will continue this year you'd think.
Hossa and the Mule are nasty, and Holmstrom has a parking space in front of MAF already.
Datspuke is hurt, so that could be a huge issue.
If Chris Draper plays we hope someone puts him through the glass.
Every other player looks the same on the Wings.
The entire hockey world is divided on which team has the edge in the forwards department.
The Pens have scored 54 of their team's 65 goals in 17 games.
The Wangs forwards have scored 49 of their team's 59 goals in 16 games.
But here comes the disparity.
The totals for the top Wings goal scorers: 10-9-8-6-5-4
The totals for the top Pens: 14-12-7-6-4-3
You're not a moron if you think Detroit is willing to sacrifice their top two lines and try to shut down Malkin and Crosby, which basically leaves the series up to the bottom two lines of each team.
Advantage: your mom
Both teams can come in saying they get some goals from their pluggers.
The battle between the bottom two lines is still too close to call.
But then you add the wild card of Bylsma rolling 7 d-men and 11 forwards.
Which frees up Crosby and Malkin to double-shift with the 4th line
and mess up whatever matchups that Babcock will be trying to put out there.
Craig Adams may be the dark horse of the series.
If you're on the fence, you're probably leaning toward the Pens anyway,
as they have Malkin and Crosby in tow.
The Pens are coming in with an underrated defense. The Red Wings play faster than any team the Pens have seen in these playoffs thus far. It might be beneficial for the Pens if Disco decides to keep rolling 7 defensemen. Each d-man has proved their mettle.
Last year Mark Eaton was out. He has been nothing short of brilliant this post-season.
Hal Gill and Scuds will be poised to shutdown the world.
In last year's Finals, Kris Letang was playing with the weight of his friend Luc Bourdon dying.
We all know what Gonch and Orpik are all about.
Boucher is a former Western Conferencer.
NiklasLidstrom is a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, but the onset of his osteoporosis could not have come at a worse time for the Wings. Brett Lebda and Brad Stuart are just jobbers who know how to throw picks in their own zone when the Wings are under attack, and they do it well. Kronwall'sgonna play on the edge but not go over it. Rafalski's name will make your ears perk up.
A big question mark is if the Pens blue-liners are the least bit scared of dancing with what brought them here (jumping into the rush at the right time). It's a key part of Disco's game plan, and it has to be present.
The Pens forwards have to be physical every second they're in the Wings' zone. The Wings faced a consistent onslaught of physical play against the #8-seeded Ducks, and we all know that series went 7 games.
When Stephen King tried to write about all the plots in this series, he pooped himself.
There are so many ways to turn, so many things to bring up.
Think back to Game 6 last year. The Pens had a critical 5-on-3 early in that contest.
They did nothing with it.
The Wings will take penalties. Pens have to finish.
It helps that the Wings PK is at like 73% right now, while the Pens PP is at around 19%.
Paul Devorski, Marc Joannette, Dennis Larue, and Bill McCreary
Unlike the NBA, the NHL has been lucky to avoid any officating mistakes.
But with Bill McCreary involved, all bets are off.
Games 1 and 2 back to back
A lot of people are flipping out about it. Abel 2 Joke has been crying about it, everyone in Homo-Town is complaining about it. Not sure why. If the Wings would have cheated a little more, maybe they could have swept the Blackhawks. This affects the Pens as much as the Wings.
For the record, we love it.
Players on both teams would play both games on the same day if they had to.
And it would still be great hockey.
Every time he is on the ice, he will be an extreme liabiltly. If he plays five minutes, it is five minutes too long. This is why playing seven defensemen is huge for the Pens. When they do this, Malkin, Crosby and Staal rotate shifts with the fourth line. Presumly Babcock will trot Chelly out there at some point. What a mistake it will be. If there is a god, he'll let Malkin humiliate Chelios then score a game-winner past Osgood, simultanesouly killing Kid Rock.
Like everyone else on the Internet, we were caught off guard by how little time there was to prepare for the SCF.
That's why this preview is mud.
But we're not gonna cry about it.
*Sean Montgomery has been providing the banners for the last couple days. Intense.