Stanley Cup rematch — or preview'
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Forget Marian Hossa.
"We're way past that," center Sidney Crosby said Monday.
The real story line heading into a Stanley Cup final rematch between Crosby's Penguins and the defending champion Detroit Red Wings tonight at Joe Louis Arena has nothing to do with a former teammate that defenseman Brooks Orpik jokingly called "What's His Name."
Nope, tonight is all about two fairly fine hockey clubs, each of which has shown this season they belong in conversations concerning current Cup contenders.
"We had a great battle last year; it's going to be fun," Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg said. "(The Penguins are) a good team. ... It was a great final."
There is no reason to believe that might not again be the case.
The Red Wings began yesterday with 20 points, a 9-2-2 record that rated third in the NHL, and looking every bit a solid bet to defend the Cup.
As for the Penguins, well, at 8-4-2 they're off to the franchise's best start since 1995, when they opened 8-3-3 through 14 games.
"I don't think anybody was aware of that," Orpik said. "To be honest, we're on, I don't want to say a roll right now, but we've put three (wins) together and the general feeling is that we've (blown) a handful of games already.
"Our record should probably be a little better than what it is."
The Penguins could own 22 points, but they've earned only two of six possible points in games they entered the third period with a lead.
However, they remain close to the Atlantic Division- and Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers, on whom they have four games in-hand.
"You look at the record and you've got to be satisfied. ... We're on the right track right now," coach Michel Therrien said. "One thing we addressed with the players from Day 1 in training camp was having a good start. We haven't had a great start, but it's a good start."
It's a better start than they've had in each of Therrien's previous two seasons. The Penguins were 7-6-1 and 7-5-2 through 14 games in each of the previous two campaigns -- and those were played under considerably better circumstances.
As Therrien reminded yesterday, the Penguins are without their top two defensemen, Sergei Gonchar (left shoulder) and Ryan Whitney (left foot). Whitney appeared visibly frustrated prior to practice after an individual skating session lasted less than two minutes.
Those injuries aside, there is the not-so-small point that the Penguins replaced six forwards, including Hossa, from their Cup finalist squad, and they've received only seven goals - or six few than Chicago's Patrick Sharp - from superstar centers Sidney Crosby (3) and Evgeni Malkin (4).
"We're playing good hockey," Crosby said. "We're getting big plays. That's the difference. We've just got to stay on pace here and approach each game the same way.
"You can't get caught up with your record. It's always going to reflect the team no matter what. Our team has always been deep and prided itself on playing together. Everyone has stepped up when they've had to, and that's the sign of a good hockey team."
The hockey team holding the Stanley Cup knows the Penguins remain a viable challenger.
"There was some serious turnover, but they're still a pretty good team," said Red Wings goalie Ty Conklin, the Penguins' backup last season to starter Marc-Andre Fleury. "I certainly wouldn't bet against that group, the guys in that locker room that I know. A lot of real high character guys in there.
"I wouldn't bet against them."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pens get physical, trade Goc for Blues’ Lapierre
- No cross-checking here: Penguins misspell ‘Sidney’
- Penguins notebook: Crosby understands NHL’s reasoning for ban
- Crosby banned from Jets game because he missed All-Star Game
- Letang produces 5 assists in return as Penguins defeat Jets, 5-3
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended 8 games for hit on Letang
- Rossi: Crosby’s debt to NHL paid in full
- Crosby, Malkin dazzle fellow All-Stars
- Fleury’s relay team struggles in NHL skills competition
- Islanders rally to down Penguins, take command of division