Well, since im going to be out of the loop this weekend for a much deserved break from work I figured it would behoove me to throw some analysis out there and get some reactions
- Top Six wingers?
- Even though the pens have taken the last two games our top six wingers have been largely absent this series. Sure tank and Talbot have produced but Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz sure have been kept silent. If the pens are going to win on Saturday night one of them must put one in the net. I would also expect to see tank continue to play well. He was great in game 4 as was the entire second line.
- MAF has slowly settled into a grove over the past two games and when you look at his performances as a whole this series they have been solid outings. Yes he let in softies in the first two games but when those went in the games were largely decided anyway. Meanwhile at the other end Osgood has been slipping. There is rampant speculation as to the nature of that slip. Some say he’s getting old, some say his defense is letting him down, but hardly anyone is saying it’s because the penguins are wearing him down. If the wings win tomorrow it will be because Chris Osgood regained his form.
- The X factor
- The x factor in the equation tomorrow is obviously does Datsyuk play? If he does how effective is he? How Mobile is he? Is his timing there? Will his injury prevent him from logging significant ice time? How will his injury affect his ability to match up against either Sidney or Geno? To me there are just too many questions to answer and given the nature of his injury (foot) I find it hard to believe he will have that significant of an impact. I also would not put it past the pens to go after that foot (Matt Cooke anyone). Part of the reason Gonchars return in the semis was effective was because Bylsma was able to mitigate his ice time and put him in advantageous situations. That really can’t be done in this case for the red wings because of age, and defensive responsibilities. I go into this a bunch more in the thread discussing dats’s return.
- In closing I think the pens weather the storm early and pull away late again. MAF pitches a one hitter and the pens win 3-1, taking a lead in the best of seven with a chance to skate around home ice with the cup.