At the end of the game, would you believe the Penguins actually outshot the Red Wings? Detroit had a Pittsburgh 14-7 shot advantage in a furious rush at the end of the game.....Last year in Game 6 Marian Hossa's shot just trickled parallel to the goal-line and didn't go in. This year Hossa jumped onto a pile to try and force the puck in the net and it didn't go in. Noticing a trend?
- We hear a lot about the "Detroit style" which includes winning and only winning. I'm thinking it also includes flopping to the ice whenever you feel any kind of contact? NBC was whining about a Brooks Orpik slash in the dying seconds of the game, but they had no comments about Henrik Zetterberg hooking/holding and doing everything he could to stop Evgeni Malkin from getting out of the zone with about 3:45 left in the game. A lot of fans honestly believe the officials blatantly favor Pittsburgh....But if you watch enough Penguin games honestly, you'd see the officiating always evens out and the bad calls go for both teams. That was seen again tonight, as it pretty much has been all series. The officiating wasn't a factor though, the players were.
- Jordan Staal began the scoring for the Pens....In what's becoming a staple of the series, a Detroit defenseman bobbled the puck at the blueline (Brett Lebda this time) and J-Staal pounced on it. A 2-on-1 with Matt Cooke against Jonny Ericsson was sprung. Ericsson got burned by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in Game 4 and is now 0 for 2 when Staal decided not to pass to Cooke (good call) and shoot. Chris Osgood made the initial save but left the rebound on a platter for Staal to pop it in.
- Tyler "Mister" Kennedy was the Penguins leading scorer with a goal and an assist. Interestingly "Mr Norris Trophy" himself Nicklas Lidstrom didn't take proper position and allowed Kennedy the goal.
- Hits were 35-26 Penguins and all the names you want to see as a Penguin fan were there. Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke got 5 a piece, Brooks Orpik had 4.
- The Pens paid the price to block shots too; Orpik lead the way with 6, Rob Scuderi had 4 (more to come), Max Talbot, Hal Gill and Craig Adams all got 2.
- The much maligned Marc-Andre Fleury came through when it counted. Breakaway save on Dan Cleary with about 1:20 left probably saved the season. If Cleary scores there, the Red Wings --who were buzzing anyways -- would have to go on to score the next goal, you'd have to think. Fleury also made 24 other saves on 25 shots to hold Detroit at bay.
- Bill Guerin 6 shots on goal and had his best game of the series. One could tell the old dog knows he might not get it another shot at the Cup and he wasn't ready to
- But the biggest save of them all was by Reliable Rob Scuderi. With 17-18 seconds to go in a mad scramble in front. The puck found Johan Franzen (he of 25 goals in the past two playoffs) and "The Mule" had nothing in front of an empty net, save Scuderi. And Scuderi saved. He used his stick, his leg and anything possible to keep it out. And he did just that. The stuff legends are made of if the Penguins take Game 7.
- Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk all combined for 0 points. But so did Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar....It was a game of secondary scoring and depth players. Guys like Kennedy, Scuderi, Staal and Talbot all came through huge for Pittsburgh and that made all the difference.
If nothing else, take comfort in Detroit not getting to skate the Cup on Pittsburgh ice for the second season in a row. What a dagger that would have been. Like every Penguin fan, knowing that won't happen makes a huge difference. We're playing with house money now.
A stat you're sure to hear a lot in the upcoming days: home teams are 12-2 in Game 7's of Stanley Cup finals. But the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins are 0-0 and the 2009 Detroit Red Wings are 0-0 so don't put too much stock in that. The play on the ice will determine the winner. The crowd and the atmosphere will be a factor, to be sure, but it's not going to score goals for the Red Wings. The best team will win, and that's that. And we're not going to find out until Friday night.
It's a one game season now. What every player dreams of, a 60 minute effort that will boost you to immortality. "Whatever it takes, we walk together" is the Penguins motto.....And they've got one more game to walk hard.
So close you can taste it.....15 incredible wins down, but the hardest one is yet to come.