|Penguins get physical against Red Wings|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:27|
The Penguins, shut out in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals by Detroit, showed their exasperation at the end of Monday's 3-0 loss in Game 2 with some borderline cheap shots on several Red Wings players.
Most prominent was Gary Roberts' not well-disguised punch to the face of Johan Franzen, who was returning from a six-game layoff with concussion-like symptoms. Pavel Datsyuk also absorbed some punishment, no doubt sent by the Penguins to show they have some physicality to go with their so far invisible scoring talent.
The problem with such hits is they can motivate their opponent more than it does the team delivering them. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock promised again Tuesday that the Penguins haven't seen the best of his team.
And, perhaps, the beast of his team, either.
``I guess you're trying to send a message or whatever,'' Babcock said. ``To me, the game's going to be won in between the whistles. And you're not going to back us off one inch. It's impossible. You're not going to back up Pavel. And you have to decide for your own team what you think helps you win.''
As for Franzen, Babcock likes that he has now played a game in the finals.
``We think we can be better. And we're going to try to be better,'' Babcock said. ``Just the Mule getting a game under his belt, (he) should be a better hockey player the next game. And that should make us a better team.''
Detroit hasn't played in Pittsburgh since winning a 2-0 decision - yes, another shutout - in a regular season game on Oct. 7.
FACE OF THE PLAYOFFS: Sidney Crosby may be the face of the new NHL. So far, with no goals and not a lot of scoring chances, Crosby has yet to be the face of these finals.
Not when there are so many grizzled Red Wings mugs trying to keep him from winning a Stanley Cup before he turns 21.
That doesn't mean Crosby isn't getting a lot of attention, both from the Red Wings and the media, but he said all the off-ice attention hasn't been wearying.
``I'm in the Stanley Cup final. That's realistically what's going through my head,'' Crosby said. ``That's all I'm worried about. Not the TV, not anything. I mean, I've dreamed of being here my whole life. And my job is what I do for my team and what I bring for my team. And that's what I'm worried about, nothing else.''
LEADING EDGE: Now the Penguins know what the Predators, Avalanche and Stars discovered earlier in the playoffs. It's not only difficult to beat the Red Wings, it's hard enough to get a lead on them.
Of the 1,081 minutes and 48 seconds they've played in the postseason, the Red Wings have led or been tied for all but 122 minutes, 2 seconds, or 89 percent of the time. The Red Wings have outscored the Penguins 7-0 in the finals.
The last time the Penguins were shut out in consecutive playoff games was in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey, when the Devils beat them 3-0 in Game 3 and 5-0 in Game 4 in Pittsburgh. The Devils won 4-2 in Game 5 at home to take the series.
This is the first time in the Penguins' three Stanley Cup finals appearances they have been down by two games. They swept Chicago in 1992 and beat Minnesota in six games in 1991, when they lost two of the first three games but won the next three.
SAVARD TO PANTHERS?: Penguins assistant coach Andre Savard, a former Canadiens general manager, appears to be a strong contender for the Florida Panthers' coaching job.
Savard is in a unique position in his Penguins' job: He is working for coach Michel Therrien, whom he fired as Canadiens' coach while serving as Montreal's GM from 2000-03. He later was Montreal's assistant GM. Despite that, Therrien hired Savard before the 2006-07 season.
Savard is a former NHL center who had 211 goals and 271 assists while playing for the Bruins, Sabres and Quebec Nordiques.
STANLEY CUP ROOTING FOR PENGUINS: This may come as a surprise to the Red Wings, who are two victories away from raising the Stanley Cup.
Stanley Cup is a major Penguins fan. And he'd like a couple of tickets to the two Cup games in Pittsburgh.
Stanley Joseph Cup, age 59, of Saltsburg, Indiana County, in the Pittsburgh region, has been a Penguins rooter for years. Several years back, he appeared in TV ads for Versus (then known as OLN) promoting the network's Stanley Cup coverage.
A steelworker who routinely works 10-hour shifts, he has seeking Cup tickets.
Cup's father, a coal miner named Steven Stanley Cup, wasn't a hockey fan but gave his son the name Stanley because he liked the common nickname for Stanley of Stush, which is what Stanley Cup's friends call him.
And, yes, Stanley Cup has pictures of himself with the other Stanley Cup.