For entertainment and discussion:
1. What a difference a year makes. In last year's Finals, while the Penguins competed hard and gave us a game 5 for the ages, the Red Wings were clearly the stronger team, taking a stranglehold in games 1 and 2 that they never really relinquished. This time around, the gap between the teams has narrowed considerably. Even when falling behind 0-2 in the series, the Pens played solid (if imperfect) games both times, which could not be said last year. And their execution on home ice has been a thing to behold. Raise your hand if you suggested at the beginning of the postseason that this year's team was arguably better than last year's (raises hand).
2. Mea culpa. Sometimes you're happy to admit that you were wrong about something, and sometimes you aren't. If the Pens manage to finish this thing off and bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh, I will be very, very, very happy to admit that I was very wrong about Dan Bylsma.
3. What's up with the Red Wings? While the Penguins need to be commended for their play in all four games of this series, it's reasonable to wonder at how the supposedly unbeatable Red Machine has let Pittsburgh take control of this series. To what extent do injury and fatigue have to enter into the discussion? The Wings went through a bruising, brutal 7-game series with Anaheim and a physical series against Chicago, and they're absorbing a fair number of bumps from the Pens as well. And at this point Pavel Datsyuk has just passed Peter Forsberg on the all-time list for "number of news items written about an injured foot". A lot of things likely explain why the Pens were able to even the series at home, but it's fair to wonder: are the Wings running out of gas?
4. True or False: Evgeni Malkin will go down as one of the top 6 or 7 players in NHL history.
5. True or False: When Malkin and Fleury are at the tops of their games, the Penguins are almost impossible to beat.
6. D-FENS. I'm sure, any day now, the hockey press will realize that the Penguins know how to play defense. They shut down the versatile and gifted Philadelphia forwards in round 1 and Eric Staal and Ray Whitney in the ECF, and have largely kept the Red Wings skill players in check. The only player to have a field day against this team was Ovechkin, and let's face it, Ovechkin really is that good.
7. Mea culpa part 2. I haven't been able to take part in the game threads here in games 3 or 4 because of work, but I did want to apologize for losing my cool a bit on the game 2 thread. My job is kind of unimaginably stressful lately, and I was kind of on a short fuse that night. My bad.
8. Game 5 predictions. The pressure would seem to be squarely on the Red Wings Saturday. If you're Pittsburgh, you don't mess around this close to the finish line. So long as they don't have to kill off 18 or 19 Wings power plays, and so long as the linesmen enforce the offsides rule for BOTH teams, the Pens are playing well enough to take this next one on the road. And if they do, one thinks that not even (another) federal bailout will be enough to save Detroit.