Hockey Today May 24

Hockey Today May 24

Wings LW Franzen out for Game 1 of Cup finals

DETROIT (AP) -Red Wings forward Johan Franzen practiced for over an hour Friday with his teammates, but hasn't been cleared by doctors to return to game action following concussion-like symptoms.

Franzen, the NHL leader this year in postseason goals with 12, has been out since Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and said he won't play Saturday night when Detroit takes on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals opener.

``I'm out of shape, but otherwise I felt good,'' Franzen said. ``We'll do some testing (Saturday). It wasn't clear to me exactly what I have to do. It's day to day, checkups every day.''

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Angry Roberts to sit out Game 1 for Penguins

DETROIT (AP) -Gary Roberts won't be in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup Saturday night for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, and the newly turned 42-year-old forward isn't happy about it.

Roberts' 19th NHL season has been a difficult one, from the broken leg he suffered days before the Winter Classic against Buffalo, to other nagging leg injuries that also forced him to the sideline.

Once he finally did get back midway through the second round of the playoffs, a bout with pneumonia knocked him out of the conference finals against Philadelphia.

Roberts said he felt good physically Friday, on his birthday, but he was clearly being careful with his words. He had already been told he wouldn't play Saturday and planned to have a talk with coach Michel Therrien to find out why.

``It's not the time for me to complain,'' Roberts said. ``I've enjoyed being around this group of guys. I've had a trying year, health wise, not the year I wanted to have. It's not about me now, it's about the team. One thing I can say is if I get the chance, I won't let my teammates down.''

Chris Chelios, Detroit's 46-year-old defenseman, likely also will be scratched in the series opener due to a leg injury.

Chelios, who while with Montreal played against Calgary's Roberts in the 1989 Stanley Cup finals, sat out the Red Wings' clinching victory in the Western Conference finals at Dallas on Monday night.

``Whether it's superstition or not, they're not changing,'' Chelios said. ``We played a really good game to close out the last series. I'm good to go. I'm ready to go.''

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NOT SO FAMILIAR: In the rotating NHL schedule, the Penguins and Red Wings didn't play in the regular season. With changes already in place for next season, this could be the last finals series that pits unfamiliar foes against each other with the Stanley Cup on the line.

Following the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, the NHL returned with a schedule that heavily favored intradivision games at the expense of contests between the conferences.

For the past three seasons, teams played only 10 games outside the conference - facing one division all at home, another all on the road, and skipping the third altogether.

The Atlantic Division and Central went their separate ways this season, but that will soon change. Next season, every team will face the other 29 at least once and will take on three teams from the opposite conference home and away.

The last time the Penguins and Red Wings played, Detroit earned a 2-0 road victory on Oct. 7, 2006.

Defenseman Brian Rafalski, in his first season with the Red Wings after a long stint with the New Jersey Devils, was able to provide some scouting tips from his days back East.

``It helps having a player who knows more about their tendencies and their players than most of us do, haven't played against them,'' fellow defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.

Factoring in all pro sports, teams from Detroit and Pittsburgh haven't met in the postseason since the 1909 World Series. Back then, shortstop Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates topped Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers 4-3.

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SLIM PICKINGS: While the Penguins have five players on their roster who were chosen within the first five picks of the NHL draft, the Red Wings have only three that were selected in the entire first round.

And of those three, defenseman Niklas Kronwall was the only one taken by the Red Wings - going 29th in the 2000 draft. Detroit right winger Daniel Cleary was chosen 13th by Chicago in 1997, and defenseman Brad Stuart went third to San Jose a year later.

Pittsburgh's draft success and fortunate finishes in the lottery are key reasons why the Penguins have gone from the worst record in the Eastern Conference to the Stanley Cup finals in a two-year span.

The Penguins have 13 first-round picks on their team.

Team captain Sidney Crosby went first overall after a league-wide lottery right after the lockout in 2005. The Penguins won that prize two years after they chose goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with the No. 1 pick. In between, Pittsburgh used the No. 2 selection on MVP finalist Evgeni Malkin.

The story doesn't end there. The Penguins picked fifth in 2002 and chose defenseman Ryan Whitney, and then took 19-year-old forward Jordan Staal at No. 2 in 2006.

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AGE VS. EXPERIENCE: What will win out: The Detroit Red Wings' vast Stanley Cup experience, or the Pittsburgh Penguins' talent on young legs?

Of those who have played at least one postseason game this season, the Red Wings' average age is 32.3. Pittsburgh checks in at 27.9 years.

Detroit has 10 previous Stanley Cup winners, combining for 23 championships on its roster. Pittsburgh lags there, too, with three previous champions and four titles.

``I didn't even realize they were that young until I started hearing their ages,'' said 35-year-old Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, who won back-to-back titles with Detroit in 1997 and '98. ``They are pretty young, but they're great players still. I don't think that's going to be much of a difference.

``We do have the experience, which we lean on often in the playoffs.''

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NHL LONG SHEET

PITTSBURGH (59-29-0-8, 126 pts.) at DETROIT (66-25-0-7, 139 pts.)

Top Trends for this game.
PITTSBURGH is 5-12 ATS (-8.1 Units) in road games after scoring 4 goals or more in their previous game this season.
DETROIT is 81-31 ATS (+4.8 Units) in home games in non-conference games since 1996.
DETROIT is 12-1 ATS (+10.0 Units) in the Stanley Cup finals since 1996.
DETROIT is 33-10 ATS (+33.0 Units) after a win by 2 goals or more this season.
DETROIT is 34-7 ATS (+16.6 Units) in home games after scoring 4 goals or more in their previous game over the last 2 seasons.
DETROIT is 85-45 ATS (-14.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 59-37 ATS (+11.2 Units) in all games this season.
PITTSBURGH is 18-12 ATS (+30.1 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5.5 this season.
PITTSBURGH is 39-19 ATS (+13.8 Units) second half of the season this season.
PITTSBURGH is 30-19 ATS (+7.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
PITTSBURGH is 32-20 ATS (+61.0 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
DETROIT is 2-0 (+2.0 Units) against the spread versus PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
DETROIT is 2-0-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+2.1 Units)

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NHL SHORT SHEET


Saturday, May 24th

Stanley Cup
Finals
Game One
Series Tied, 0-0
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 8:00 ET

Pittsburgh:
18-5 SU when playing 5 or less games in 14 days
12-2 SU as a # 2 seed in the playoffs

Detroit:
9-10 SU at home after winning 8 or more of their last 10
12-8 SU on Saturday games

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Trend Sheet

PITTSBURGH vs. DETROIT
Pittsburgh is 2-5-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Detroit
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Pittsburgh's last 8 games when playing on the road against Detroit
Detroit is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games
Detroit is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games at home

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Hockey Today

Pittsburgh at Detroit (8 p.m., EDT). The Stanley Cup finals begin at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings are 7-1 this postseason and hold a 25-12 scoring advantage.

ON THE MEND

Red Wings forward Johan Franzen practiced for over an hour Friday with his teammates, but hasn't been cleared by doctors to return to game action. Franzen, who leads the NHL with 12 playoff goals in 11 games, has been out with recurring headaches and concussion-like symptoms since Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. Although he is feeling much better, Franzen will be sidelined again Saturday night when Detroit opens the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

REJECTED

A federal jury on Friday rejected a request to award former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and a former team masseur nearly $300 million for a 1997 limo crash that left them with disabling brain injuries. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before deciding that Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury, the Ohio dealership that sold the limo, was not responsible for the injuries the two sustained.

SPEAKING

``I'm feeling good. I was excited to be back out on the ice. It was a lot of fun to be with the guys again. I'm out of shape, but otherwise I felt good.'' - Detroit forward Johan Franzen said Friday after practicing for about an hour. Franzen hasn't been cleared by doctors to return to game action and will likely sit out of Game 1 on Saturday.

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Saturday Playoff Gameday
By David Harrison

Detroit is the place to be Saturday night, as the Stanley Cup final gets underway between the Red Wings and Penguins, while in the NBA the Eastern Conference final resumes with Game 3 between the Celtics and Pistons.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings

Both the Red Wings and Penguins will be well-rested heading into Game 1. The Wings haven’t played since knocking off Dallas in six games on Monday, while the Pens had an extra day off, having eliminated Philadelphia in five games last Sunday.

This series could see a ton of goals, as the Top 5 playoff scoring leaders will all be taking part. Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg lead their respective teams with 21 points each, while Marian Hossa, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk have all collected 19 points so far. Playoff goal-scoring leader Johan Franzen is also expected to suit up in this series, although he is out for Game 1. Franzen has missed the Wings’ last five games with concussion-like symptoms, but he still leads all playoff scorers with 12 goals.

The only thing that could possibly keep the goals down in this series are the goaltenders. Both Chris Osgood and Marc-Andre Fleury have been stellar in nets throughout the postseason. Osgood leads all starting goaltenders with a 1.60 goals-against average in the playoffs, while Fleury checks in right behind him at 1.70. Fleury is just ahead of Osgood in save percentage at .938, with Osgood next at .931.

One category where Detroit is light years ahead of Pittsburgh is playoff experience. The Red Wings have 10 players who have lifted the Cup before, with a number of them having done it numerous times. Pittsburgh has three former Cup winners on their roster, with only Darryl Sydor owning more than one ring. Gary Roberts is another Penguin with a Cup ring, but neither he nor Detroit veteran Chris Chelios will play in Game 1 of the series.

The opening odds for Game 1 list Detroit as a -165 home favorite, while Pittsburgh is a +145 underdog.

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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings will both be gunning for a victory on Saturday when they meet at Joe Louis Arena.

Oddsmakers currently have the Red Wings listed as 170-moneyline favorites versus the Penguins, while the game's total is sitting at 5½.

The Penguins defeated Philadelphia 6-0 as a -260 favorite in Game 5 on Sunday. The six goals scored went OVER the posted over/under total (5.5).

Ryan Malone had two goals and an assist, while Marian Hossa added a goal and three assists for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 21 shots he faced to record the shutout.

Dallas Drake and Henrik Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist as the Red Wings defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 to win the Western Conference final 4-2 on Monday night.

Detroit won as -140 road favorites as the teams pushed the 5-goal total set by oddsmakers.

Team records:
Pittsburgh: 47-27-8
Detroit: 54-21-7

Pittsburgh most recently:
When playing on Saturday are 4-6
Before playing Ottawa are 4-6
After playing Philadelphia are 5-5
After a win are 8-2

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Saturday are 4-6
Before playing Edmonton are 5-5
After playing Dallas are 7-3
After a win are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
Pittsburgh is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Pittsburgh's last 8 games when playing Detroit
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Pittsburgh's last 8 games when playing on the road against Detroit
Detroit is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games at home
Detroit is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Pittsburgh
Detroit is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Detroit's last 8 games when playing at home against Pittsburgh

Next up:
Detroit home to Pittsburgh, Monday, May 26

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2008 NHL playoffs

Good time to be a Detroit sports fan; Red Wings are team with more experience than Penguins, but Pittsburgh is 12-2 so far in playoffs, on one of greatest runs in playoff history- the games they lost in playoffs both came with Pens leading the series 3-0. Red Wings won 12 of 16 playoff games, seven of eight on the home ice. Both teams are well-rested. Wings allowed 20 goals in their last dozen games.

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