Just picking up and running with this acid flashback kind of thing for this series turned out to be the right thing to do since, just like last year, the Penguins pulled off a Game 3 victory.
In this version, a crazy up and down first period with two goals for each team lead to a Detroit-dominated and defensively locked down second period which saw Detroit get its opportunities to take the lead and then turn into a third period where Pittsburgh turned up the pressure and get the lead and the victory on the power play.
Once again, however, officiating is at the forefront of the discussion after an obvious too many men on the ice call was missed in the first period. Shortly after that, Detroit was booked for a penalty which lead to a Pittsburgh power play goal to tie the game at two. Even the guys in the NBC booth were going bonkers over the call.
All the officiating faux pas aside, Abel to Yzerman made it plain as day what the chink in the armor of the Red Wings is:
The Penalty Kill is this family’s dirty secret. The Kill is the clepto dad, the dirty sister who hands it out like candy at Christmas, the mom who got a DUI last week, pulled over and arrested in the middle of the day. Our penalty kill is a problem like that. It’s not going to just go away without treatment. And, left to its own devices, it’s going to humiliate us all at the worst possible moment.
The truth hurts. In short-handed situations there's something drastically different about how the Red Wings go about business. The pressure on the point men isn't there, defensive positioning is certainly off, hell, look where Niklas Kronwall is standing on this goal:
Pretty tough to help your goaltender when you're screening him. Then again, Niklas Kronwall is a bit of a dirty secret for Detroit as it is anyhow. Kronwall is currently a +4 on defense in the playoffs. Not bad, sure, but how does he stack up with his teammates?
- Nick Lidstrom: +10
- Brian Rafalski: +10
- Jonathan Ericsson: + 10
- Brett Lebda: +9
- Brad Stuart: +7
Brad Stuart has been a stud throughout these playoffs so why are his numbers a bit off from the rest? Look no further than his defensive partner Kronwall.
Yeah, I know, he makes the big hits and makes the highlight reels and all that fun stuff but positionally he's a bit off and already in this series we've seen him make a misplay that leads to a Evgeni Malkin breakaway.
You think this is something Dan Bylsma and the Penguins staff haven't taken note of? You bet they have and they know that Stuart is playing out of his mind and doing even more to help/cover up for Kronwall's mistakes.
How does this translate out in Game 4 though? Who knows. At this point, why even try to deviate from how things shook out from last year. Detroit has shown an uncanny ability to rebound from losses and make corrections in their game to make sure these problems don't come up again.
Pittsburgh is going to need to bring the thunder like they did for the third period last night all game long. Another period like their second period last night where Detroit controls play and gets the chances they did will not turn out well for the Penguins. Then again, perhaps the Penguins had a bit of hockey karma coming their way after some of the bad-break-bounces they suffered in Game 1 and that's why you see Mikael Samuelsson rip a couple of shots off the post.
Then again, I could say that unicorns will stampede the ice and leprechauns will take over and control Game 4.
Wait, nevermind, a leprechaun already runs the NHL.
The scariest and dumbest of all Leprechauns.