EDIT: Be sure to read James' brief (much more brief than mine) thoughts on G1 from the perspective of a Pens fan. His version also contains much less pissing on Marc Andre Fleury.
I'm watching the game about two hours late on DVR. Figured I might as well throw this up here, since James lets me post here. The jokes on him, one day I'm just gonna post penises all over the front page. I'm picking this up most of the way through the first period, as thats when I got done eating and could start typing. So this is a sort of semi-live blog, but I think live-blogs are stupid anyways, and I don't intend to sit here and give you some sort of play by play (you're watching the game! Why do you want to read me trying to do the same thing as Mike Emrick?), so here's random things that occur to me as I watch this game.
Start of the game: How does MAF go to play the puck and lose his stick? That's only slightly better to start a series than tripping on the entrance. If we see a third matchup like this next year, MAF will do something stupid at about the 10:00 mark instead.
Red Wings 1-0: WTF was MAF doing? You know the boards in DET are highly active! He sees it coming, and then misplays it, moving his leg funny and hesitating before pulling it back in. Pivot the paddle to the right and block it off, or get that heel back against the post. He didn't even actually get his foot back to the post, he just went down to make sure it deflected into his net. This is the kind of shit you can't do if you want to win a series against the Wings.
Shortly after: PIT sends a shot wide and off the boards, where it bounces to the other side of the net. Ozzie completely flips and dives across, because he understands that the boards are active. Part of that is the experience factor of being the DET goalie in the DET building. Part of that is being an old guy who realizes he has to know about things like that.
Pit scores, 1-1: Ok, thats one of the few goals this postseason that I'm gonna lay on Ozzie's neck. Sure, there was a turnover by DET, but that should've been an easy catch and freeze there. All postseason, Ozzie has been taking high shots and bobbling them, knocking them down, turning them into rebounds when he can gather them into his chest or catch them. He keeps losing shots for rebounds that he never should let get away from him. Control of rebounds is one of those handy dandy skills that makes good goalies great, and helps lengthen the careers of goalies on the decline.
First intermission: Danica Patrick is not attractive. I'm sorry. She's not. Thats not to say that I wouldn't hit it. I would. But that's not saying much. But she's not that attractive. She's kinda funny lookin, and only looks hot in still shots which get touched up. Otherwise, she looks kinda funny. She's not ugly, but she's funny lookin. When you use her in commercials where she's supposed to be hot, it becomes distracting.
The intermission report would be better if Darren Pang just stabbed Mike Milbury and then started drinking his blood.
Could we please stop with Malkin's mom? Evgeni Malkin looks like an ogre. He really does. This is where I should insert a side-by-side of Shrek and Malkin. He looks like an ogre, and you can see where the family resemblence comes from. His mom. Sorry Mrs. Malkin, but you look like an ogre. Show me Mrs. Robitaille, not Mrs. Malkin.
Sidney Crosby cannot grow a beard. He's not that much younger than me, only 6 months younger. I could grow that kind of beard when I was 15. And I looked stupid when I did it. If you can't grow the beard, don't try, because you'll just look like an idiot. If you win a Cup this year, every single picture of you with the Cup is going to have you looking like a 15 year old idiot. Sorry dude.
Second Period, 1:00 in: Hey, Pierre McGuire just made an observation about the Penguins trying to take shots at Ozzie to create rebounds. Good observation Pierre, you're only about 6 weeks late on that.
2nd, 3:30 in: Malkin on a breakaway! Who didn't see that coming? Kronwall got stopped, and then insisted on trying to jam through a guy in front and behind to make the shot, when he should've just slapped that on the backhand across to his partner, who was probably 15-20 feet to his left. Kronwall moved laterally, which his partner had to respect, and that put him out of position to cover Kronwall's back. Kronwall forced his partner out of position, and then made a dangerous play, and Ozzie bailed him out.
2nd, 4:60 in: Shit, PIT PP. If PIT is to win this series, its going to be on the PP. With the Wings atrocious PK and the Pens dangerous PP, the Wings taking penalties could be a very bad thing. The way this game has been officiated so far is probably to the Wings advantage, because the Wings are the better team at 5-on-5, I feel. Big dangerous chance in front, and then Helm finishes off the penalty by taking out Phillippe Boucher and icing the puck. Why is Boucher on your #1 PP line with Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, and Gonchar? Is that some sort of joke? I loved Boucher back in the day. You know, when he could skate. Nowadays, he's a corpse on skates. Also, I absolutely love Darren Helm. Strip the C from Lidstrom and stick it on Helm, that's how much I love him. Darren Helm is everything that is wonderful about hockey. Aw shit, I don't even get done writing about my crush on Helm when dumbshit Samuelsson gets a penalty. I hope Darren Helm kills this off, scores a shorthanded goal, and then has my babies. If I didn't live in Colorado, I'd try to get my teammates to rename our beer league team "The Darren Helms".
2nd, 10:00 in: Pierre McGuire just made the observation that the NJ Devils singlehandedly created the idea of using active sticks, and keeping them on the ice, when you're in your end and on the PK. Now, maybe its possible that every single defenseman for the first 75 years of the NHL's existence sucked and couldn't figure this basic part of the game out. It's possible. But somehow I doubt it. A minute later, Emrick explains that Larry Robinson taught that to the Devils after being taught that in Montreal. Which would seem to say that the Canadiens invented that, not the Devils. God I fucking hate you, Pierre McGuire. If I could have any two people in the hockey media eliminated, it would be you and Milbury. If I were sitting behind him, I'd wait till near the end of the game, and then I'd spit on him.
2nd, 14:00 in: Wings PP. Why is Mike Samuelsson on the PP? He really isn't that good. Maybe I'm spoiled and expect everyone to be Yzerman or Shanahan or Zetterberg or Datsyuk, but he's just not that good. Wings PP forwards ought to be Franzen, Hossa, Filippula, Zetterberg, Hudler, Holmstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk. And I'd stick Helm in before Samuelsson too, because of the effort he's given. I'm a big believer in rewarding effort like that.
I like Matt Cooke's game, but that was a stupid hit to make. Cooke is risking a stupid senseless penalty there, and he knocked the guy into his goalie, though he hit MAF more than Homer did. You're supposed to knock them away from the goalie, not into them. Homer should've just tried to fall on MAF's head, since he would've gotten a clean hit on the goalie, for being knocked down.
2nd, 18:00 in: The Pens are getting away with an awful lot of near-interference calls. The way this is being called, they're letting them go, but they're really pushing it. Every dump in or pass involves a guy being held up by a Penguin while his partner goes after the puck. I don't know off the top of my head if this officiating crew will be the same one for the series, but in any case, the Pens ought to be careful.
2nd, 19:00 in: YES!!!!! Chaos in the Pens end leads to a goal. After the faceoff, the little stat thing on the top bar says Wings 23, Pens 11 on faceoffs. Not sure if that was a defensive zone number, a 2nd period number, whole game, or what. Earlier, Emrick said something about how PIT is holding their own on faceoffs. He must've been making a joke. Losing nearly 70% of your faceoffs is a really good way to lose a game. In this case, the PIT line was tired, lost the faceoff, overpursued on one side, and MAF again misplayed the boards. You can't send yourself sliding around the net. You can't overpursue all over the place. You absolutely cannot put yourself out of position. MAF has to be great for the Pens to win this series. So far, he isn't.
2nd intermission: This intermission has Milbury telling me what each coach should be saying. I'm guessing Milbury is going to tell us how if he was Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma, he'd trade Crosby and Malkin in a package for a big-game goalie, like Andrew Raycroft. You know he's a bigtime up and comer, right? Raycroft is gonna be a HHOF'er, and those bums Crosby and Malkin will never win a Cup. I hate Mike Milbury. After two, faceoffs are 26-11 Wings. The Pens are barely winning 30% of their draws, and that's rounding up. Before Malkin and Crosby can win a Cup, they need to win a faceoff. This was clear last summer, and it should be even more so now. This is the biggest improvement these guys need to make.
3rd, 2:00 in: I LOVE YOU DARREN HELM!!! McGuire makes the observation that Babcock loves Darren Helm. Well, I love him more.
ABBY!!!!!! Abdelkader is another great guy, who I got to see in NCAA's. Abdelkader also makes MAF look stupid for the third time tonight. MAF misplays that, though I don't think he'd have gotten that shot in the far corner anyways. He panics and flops onto his ass and gives up more net than he needed to. He lost sight of the puck and then saw it and tried to react, and did the wrong thing. He didn't need to flop onto his ass, from his one-knee position. He needs to go butterfly there, where your panic move is to go into the butterfly, arms wide, and hope it hits you. Maybe instead of trading for Kunitz, the Pens should've traded for Hiller. If MAF is smart and just goes butterfly, his legs take away the bottom, he uses a big chest and arms to get as big and wide as he can. MAF is not a great goalie, and he is going to be a anchor on this Penguins team for years to come. As in boat anchor, not a cornerstone of the franchise.
3rd, 4:00 in: Ozzie shows what it is to be a smart goalie, even if you're not a good one. He felt that puck hit him square in the back, and you can see him pop his head up with an "oh shit" look on his face. He holds on for a second, to make sure its not rolling off toward the net, and then starts to tip away from the net. And his entire team jumps on his back because they understand the situation.
3rd, 12:00 in: Detroit has been the far better team in their own end this game. They've also gotten far better goaltending. Offensively, its been a little tighter, but overall, they've been better there too. If PIT wants to win a Cup, they're going to have to change things up a bit. This isn't Cup winning hockey. I honestly think they'd be a better team, if they had to face better teams in the playoffs. Frankly, the only three teams I could seriously see winning a Cup in the East are the Pens, Bruins, and Devils. PIT needs more practice playing against better teams, to learn how to shut them down. They're not going to get it playing in the East right now. Their system, with their lack of depth personnel is not going to cut it against the Wings, Ducks, and Sharks (?) in a Cup Final.
Commercials: Is that Tim Allen narrating these Pure Michigan commercials? I think it is. Up top to him. I laugh at the commercials and magazine ads I see about working in Michigan and moving business to MI, but MI is a pretty nice place to visit, if you're an outdoorsy type. Here in CO, people tell me they have trees, but they don't understand. In Michigan, you can't throw a rock without hitting a tree. Here, the trees are only where they put them, unless you're in the mountains. I'll die before I ever go back, but I definitely am proud of where I'm from. And thats before you even touch on any of the history in MI.
3rd, 16:00 in: MAF goes crazy bouncing around and getting out of position, and his defensemen bail him out. If Pit shaves half a mil off of Crosby and Malkin's contract, and doesn't sign Staal to a stupid deal, they could afford Lou instead of MAF, I'll bet. If I'm PIT this summer, I'm doing anything I can to get Giguere/Hiller or Lou. Short of Crosby/Malkin (who noone wants anyways), I pay whatever it takes, and I get a fundamentally sound goaltender.
The Listener: If you could hear other people's thoughts, would you use it to help yourself, or to help others? You know damn well you'd use it to get laid.
3rd, 18:00 in: This looks like a PP in the Pens end... and the Pens have an empty net. That's really, really funny. The Pens almost ice it afterwards. I think part of the icing rule should be that you're forced to keep the same players out, and if one of those isn't the goalie, tough shit. If you ice it when you have an empty net, you deserve what you get. Crosby nullified the icing though, and I don't run the NHL, so I guess its a moot point.
3rd, 20:00 in: Wings win, 3-1, and the Penguins looked overmatched through almost the entire game. If you're gonna win a Stanley Cup, everyone has to step up, and step up big. That didn't happen in this game for Pittsburgh. Primarily, your goaltender needs to step up. Butterfly goalies who play fundamentally sound are inherently hard to beat. MAF looks more like a chicken with his head cut off, and there's really only been one guy who made that style work, and he had a method to his madness.
Ozzie got into a position a few years ago where he started to find out he wasn't so good, because he was getting older and wasn't as fast as he used to be, and was on his way to an exit from the NHL. He redesigned his style, and turned it into two more Stanley Cups and extended his career. MAF isn't that great of a goalie. He needs to learn to do something different to improve his play, and that's probably becoming a butterfly goalie. If he doesn't change anything, not only will he always stay a pretty average goalie, but he's going to get an unending pile of shit dumped on him, for the contract he has, paired with the performance he gives. Maybe he bounces back in the rest of the series, but somehow I doubt it. PIT got outplayed in general, but MAF really hurt them tonight. At least he didn't fall down coming out.
Oh, and sorry James. I'm burying you under this wall, since I typed this while you apparently were posting. Sorry bro. After G3, I'll be available for every game. Maybe we should do some sort of non-douchebaggery live blogging or something for some of the games. I might be available for G3 too, depends on if my boss will approve a time off request with under 2 days notice.