Penguins need to circle the wagons, again
DETROIT — Face it, the Penguins need to win some faceoffs, or they'll face another deep hole in the Stanley Cup Final.
A sorry 16-of-55 performance in the faceoff circle Saturday — including just two wins in the third period — and some bad-luck goals doomed the Penguins in a 3-1 Game 1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
Like last season, they trail the best-of-seven Final, 1-0. However, as forward Max Talbot said last night, "the goal when you start on the road is to win one of two."
The Penguins have that opportunity tonight. Game 2 is at 8 p.m, and they're still the team with younger legs and fewer injuries.
They also have a defiant sense of confidence despite this loss.
"Definitely," center Sidney Crosby said of liking his club's chance to win the Cup more now than at this point last season.
The Penguins were blanked in Game 1 — and later Game 2 — to begin the 2008 Final in Detroit.
They carried the play to the Red Wings more last night than the combined six Final games last season.
The Penguins out-shot Detroit last night, 32-30, but their chances advantage appeared more significant. They also won the battle of blocked shots (14-11), giveaways (13-20) and essentially went hit-for-hit (39-43) with the Red Wings.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma can draw a big circle around what his club did in the those big red circles on the ice.
"They're a puck-possession team, as are we," he said. "And starting with the puck is better than not.
"One of the things we've talked about is our wingers being aware and ready to jump in and help out. The (center) doesn't often win it clean back. A lot of those (Red Wings' faceoff wins) are puck battles off the draw. Being aware, being ready and winning those battles are the responsibility of the wingers and the (defensemen) in the defensive zone.
"So, that's an area we can do a better job of."
Some frightening faceoff statistics from last night: Crosby, 6 of 20; Evgeni Malkin, 4 of 9; Talbot, 0 of 4; and Jordan Staal, 6 of 19.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock did not see those performances as the start of a series trend.
"Just a night," he said. "I think it goes that way. Some nights it goes your way, other nights it doesn't."
It went against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury last night.
Detroit went ahead, 1-0, at 13:38 of the first period on defenseman Brad Stuart's second playoff goal. His point-shot ricocheted off the backboards, slid toward Fleury, under his leg pads and over the goal line.
Malkin and winger Ruslan Fedotenko provided the Penguins with a counterpunch.
Malkin intercepted a clear-attempt by Stuart in the offensive zone and fired quickly on Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood. Fedotenko skated into the slot and stuffed a rebound into the net for his seventh playoff goal to tie the score, 1-1.
The Penguins owned the second period more than their 13-11 shots advantage suggested.
Osgood, though, showed the poise of a two-time Cup-winning starter. He denied Malkin on an early-period breakaway and later prevented Crosby from a highlight-reel finish to a spinning-backhand shot. Also, winger Miroslav Satan could not control a puck near the crease with much of the net open.
"We found a way to generate some good scoring opportunities," Crosby said. "Certainly if we would buried a couple there we would have put ourselves in a better position."
Detroit jumped ahead, 2-1, with 58 seconds left in the second on winger Johan Franzen's 11th playoff goal.
Out of a Penguins' timeout called by Bylsma to rest exhausted players following an icing of the puck, Crosby lost a faceoff to Henrik Zetterberg. A couple of weird bounces later — one, again, off the backboards — Franzen was credited for a goal off a shot that was really a behind-the-back pass toward the slot to winger Dan Cleary.
Winger Justin Abdelkader's first career playoff score at 2:46 of the third period was a more traditional fortunate bounce. He settled a rebound off his own shot and whipped a puck past Fleury to give the Red Wings a two-goal cushion.
"You just can't give them any freebies," Orpik said. "Any mistakes you make, they capitalize, and that's usually the difference in the game.
"But this feels a lot different than last year."
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.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- Penguins’ Scuderi offers honest assessment of his 2013-14 performance