Starkey: Pens need unsung scorers
Everybody's saying the Penguins can't win unless their big guns start firing.
Is that like saying the Detroit Red Wings can't win unless Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk score a lot?
Then how come the Red Wings are leading this Stanley Cup final, 2-0, without a goal from any of those guys?
Here's how: Besides rock-solid goaltending, they are getting contributions from the unlikeliest of sources.
Justin Abdelkader: A rookie left winger who is only in the lineup because of injuries to the likes of Datsyuk and Kris Draper, Abdelkader has scored his first two NHL goals in this series.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Yeah, he's the Penguins' goalie, but he has three of Detroit's last seven goals in Stanley Cup final competition, dating to Zetterberg's Cup winner in Game 6 last season, which Fleury inadvertently knocked into his net. Look, Fleury is a great goalie and still only 24 — the Penguins would not be here without him — but he needs to be one of their best players, not one who is prone to calamitous lapses. Some of the fluky goals can be attributed to bad luck. All of them can't be.
Valtteri Filppula: He had 12 goals in 80 regular-season games and just one in the playoffs but scored on a beautiful backhander in Game 2 (after Fleury was plowed over in the goal crease by Tomas Holmstrom, who'd been plowed into by Evgeni Malkin).
Jonathan Ericsson: How is this man playing hockey• His appendix was removed from the lineup on Wednesday, yet he suited up for Game 1 on Saturday and scored in Game 2 on Sunday, ripping a slap shot past a screened Fleury. Ericsson had one goal in 19 regular-season games.
And there you have it.
As Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski put it after Game 2: "It's crucial at this time of year to have a lot of young players who are enthusiastic and full of energy go out there and make things happen."
Of course, any of us could go out there full of energy. The key part of that statement is "make things happen."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that if someone had told him at the beginning of the year that he would be depending on the likes of Abdelkader (we're now officially able to spell that name without checking), Ericsson, Darren Helm and Ville Leino, "I wouldn't think we'd be in the Stanley Cup Final."
The Penguins need an answer. Something from third-liners Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy or Matt Cooke would be nice. Taking this year's final and last year's into consideration, Staal and Kennedy have combined for zero points, 17 shots and a minus-13 rating in eight games.
Chris Kunitz has one goal and a boatload of missed opportunities in these playoffs.
Meanwhile, anyone criticizing Sidney Crosby for a pointless first two games is way off base. Crosby, playing against a couple of defensive demons in Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom, generated several golden chances that were not converted.
Crosby also did his usual dirty work around the goal line and simply was unlucky, whether it was Zetterberg covering pucks in the crease (wait, isn't that a penalty shot?) or seeing a puck land flat on goalie Chris Osgood's back. Malkin had a point in each game, though he also missed on great chances to give the Penguins two-goal leads.
Those two will continue to play at a high level, but they will need some help.
If somebody doesn't step up soon, it'll be see ya' later, Abdelkader, for the Penguins.
Earlier than most of us figured.Additional Information:
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.
- Some of the top prospects in Penguins system to be in town for camp
- Penguins re-sign Megna, Samuelsson to 1-year deals
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- New Penguins winger Spaling files for arbitration
- Based on glowing recommendation, Pens hire Agnew as assistant