Time For a Shake up
As much as the hockey world looked forward to finally getting Detroit and Pittsburgh on the ice to start the Stanley Cup finals, Game 2 could be even more intriguing.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -170 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit –170 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
``We came out the way we should have and then we backed off a little bit,'' Penguins defenseman Hal Gill said. ``They played a level higher than we did. We can be effective against them if we play the way we're supposed to.''
That chance will come Monday night back in Hockeytown. The 4-0 Game 1 loss has Pittsburgh trailing in a series for the first time this year and needing to figure out how to avoid heading home 0-2.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien took a proactive approach and switched up his lines for practice Sunday. He preached effort, cohesiveness and attention to details.
Pascal Dupuis was dropped from captain Sidney Crosby's line and was replaced by Ryan Malone. Dupuis instead will skate with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.
``It's probably just a little different with Dups,'' Crosby said. ``He probably brings a little more speed, opens things up a little bit. With Bugsy, he's a bigger guy, probably a bigger presence in front of the net, in the corners.''
That could suggest the Penguins will look to chip the puck into the offensive zone past the Red Wings' solid defense corps led by Nicklas Lidstrom. Both teams thrive on maintaining possession of the puck for long stretches, yet Detroit was more effective in the opener.
The Red Wings struggled in the first period, mostly because they spent more than 6 minutes short-handed after being called for four penalties. Once they stayed out of the box, they turned a 0-0 game into a rout over the final 40 minutes, holding the Penguins to seven shots and one power-play chance.
``They'll gain some experience from the game, so will we,'' said Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, who made 12 of his 19 saves in the first period. ``We didn't play great in the first. They had a real solid first period, and then we possessed the puck very good for the last two periods.''
In addition to changing lines, Therrien is turning back to 42-year-old gritty forward Gary Roberts, who was miffed about being benched for the opener. Roberts has been in and out of the lineup because of various injuries and illness.
Therrien was reluctant to alter a winning lineup that had lost only twice in the Eastern Conference portion of the playoffs. He sought to reward those who got the Penguins there, but now feels the need to add a jolt.
``This is only one game,'' he said. ``We would like to have had a better result. I didn't think we played a good game, and the Red Wings played really well. In time I believe we could play a lot better.
``We've proven in the past after a fair performance we always bounce back. This is what I'm expecting from that team, and we addressed it with the players before practice. It was important to make sure we got the right attitude. I thought our guys were sharp.''
Detroit is still waiting and hoping for the return of Johan Franzen, who is tied with teammate Henrik Zetterberg for the NHL lead with 12 playoff goals. He has been sidelined six games after experiencing recurring headaches but has been practicing since Friday.
The headaches are gone, and he is a doctor's clearance away from returning. He is expected to go through a strenuous workout Monday to get his heart rate up. If he doesn't experience any symptoms, his could be back immediately.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he expects him in the lineup by Game 4.
The Red Wings are 13-4 in the postseason and are three wins from capturing the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in 11 seasons.
They got an unexpected offensive outburst from forward Mikael Samuelsson, who scored twice Saturday after posting only two assists in the previous six games.
Anytime someone can take the scoring load away from top-liners Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings will be that much better. Zetterberg and Datsyuk are already dealing with the responsibility of holding down Crosby's line.
``I just tried to do my job and play the way we've played before,'' Datsyuk said. ``I'm not focused on stats right now.''
Of some concern to the Red Wings is the handling of rugged forward Tomas Holmstrom, who lives in front of goalies and often creeps too close to the crease.
For the second straight series, a Detroit goal has been waved off because officials said Holmstrom crossed the line of screening into the realm of interference. The Red Wings disputed the call Saturday night that wiped out Lidstrom's goal in the first period and don't want Holmstrom to change his style.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and Holland talked to Holmstrom after Saturday's game and told him that both negated goals should have counted.
``He's running such a fine line and everybody is talking about him that he's had calls go against him,'' Holland said. ``We said, 'Just keep going there.' That's how he's stayed in the league. He's the best at it in the league. Those were good goals, those were great plays. If we're going to scold him and he's going to back off, he's not going to be effective.''
The Penguins can only hope to get even a bit of traffic like that in front of Osgood. The veteran goalie, who backstopped Detroit's run to a second straight championship in 1998, is playing even better now.
Since replacing Dominik Hasek as the No. 1 goalie during the first round of this year's playoffs, Osgood is 11-2 with a 1.48 goals-against average in 14 games.
He doesn't often get the credit for the Red Wings' success and is often downplayed as being a fortunate beneficiary of Detroit's system.
``He's been doing it for us for years,'' Lidstrom said. ``We know in here what he can do.''
Did you like this article? Subscribe to our Hockey news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe