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Loose Pucks

Loose Pucks -- random thoughts and observations that are bouncing around my head.  This will probably be a semi-regular new feature around here, so let me know if you enjoy it

--Assuming he plays in every game, Marc-Andre Fleury will lead all NHL goaltenders in playoff games played for the second year in a row.  (Which by default also means this is the second consecutive year that the Penguins will end up leading the NHL in playoff games played).


--Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula leads the Red Wings with 13 assists this post-season.  Filpulla only had 28 assists in 80 regular season games this year.


--Is there a changing of the guard for the mantle of Detroit's power forward?  Tomas Holmstrom only has 6 goals in his last 37 playoff games; Johan Franzen has 23 goals in his last 32 playoff appearances


--From the "Chris Chelios is old" file: Chelly (then with the Montreal Canadiens) had already played 61 NHL playoff games and won a Stanley Cup before Sidney Crosby was even born in August of 1987

--From the "Sidney Crosby is still actually kind of young" file: Crosby's played in 42 (and counting) playoff games.  When Mario Lemieux was 21 years old he'd played in 0 NHL playoff games. 

Jaromir Jagr, who had the good fortune to enter the NHL on the 1990-91 Penguins, played 63 NHL playoff games (scoring 52 points).  It'd take another deep playoff run next season for Crosby to match him there, but Sid already has 60 NHL playoff points.


-- Assuming injuries to Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper won't prohibit them from playing, Detroit's lineup will look remarkably similar to the team the Penguins played last season.  There's been virtually no roster turnover, and from what I can tell the same players are playing the same major roles.


The only minor changes have been forwards Dallas Drake and Darren McCarty are gone (replaced by Marian Hossa and youngster Justin Abdelkader).  Defensemen Andreas Lilja is injured, but he's been more than replaced by Jonathan Ericsson.  Also technically the backup goalie has changed too, as old friend Ty Conklin sits on the bench instead of Dominik Hasek, but other than that the lineup and faces will be largely similar for Detroit.


The same cannot be said about the Penguins lineup  Last year at this time Pascal Dupuis and Petr Sykora were playing top 6 roles, which they won't this seres.  And the other two top wingers (Hossa and Ryan Malone) skated away in free agency.  The Pens have brought in Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko to fill the roles of the scoring wingers that departed.  But further down the forwards have been revamped; Gary Roberts, Jarkko Ruutu, Adam Hall, Darryl Sydor and Ryan Whitney are all players that played against Detroit that won't be in the lineup this year.  That totals to nearly half the team that is either playing a totally different role (like Dupuis or Sykora) or gone from the organization altogether.


--Chris Osgood has posted an impressive .925 save percentage through the playoffs…But he’s only seen an average of 25.3 shots/game.  The Penguins have 34.9 shots per game, so it’ll be interesting to follow if the aggressive style Pittsburgh has adopted will result in more rubber on Osgood than he’s accustomed too.


--The Red Wings, however, have been the kings of shots on goal, leading the NHL playoffs with 39.5 shots/game.  Their puck possession style is legendary, and although it’s obvious, the series will likely be decided on what exceeds the most: the Penguins aggressive pressure game or the Red Wings more meticulous, controlling style of play.


--It’s foolish to put too much stock in the regular season games (one in November, the other in early February) but it tells an interesting tale…


In November the game was wide-open; the shots were 34 a piece and Pittsburgh won 7-6 in over-time on the strength of a Jordan Staal hat trick.


In February, Detroit clamped down, out-shot the Pens and imposed their classic style, winning 3-0 in front of Conklin.


Will the games more resemble the first or second game?