Red Wings Make Their Own Bounces in Game One Win over Penguins

The Detroit Red Wings score two goals on plays off the end boards and one more with a bouncing puck Saturday night, leading to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 1-0 lead in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup.

Brad Stuart, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader were Detroit’s goal scorers. Ruslan Fedotenko scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal.

Stuart opened the scoring with 6:22 left in the first period. After holding in the puck at the Pittsburgh blue line, Stuart snapped a shot purposely wide of the net in an attempt to work it down low to Marian Hossa.

Instead, the puck bounced off of the end boards and came back to the side of the net, hitting the back of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury‘s leg and deflecting into the goal.

Fedotenko tied the game with 1:23 left in the period. Stuart gave the puck up to Evgeni Malkin on the left wing in the Detroit end and Malkin fired a hard shot on Red Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood. Osgood couldn’t control the rebound and Fedotenko swept in to put it into the back of the net.

Franzen put Detroit back in front with 58 seconds left in the second period. Brian Rafalski fired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle wide of the net, bouncing it off the back boards. Franzen picked up the puck at a low angle to the goal mouth and banked a shot of of Fleury and in.

Just 2:46 into the third period Abdelkader extended the Detroit lead. In a goal mouth scramble, Abdelkader gloved the puck out of the air and dropped it down to his stick. As it bounced, he golfed a shot into the top corner over Fleury’s shoulder.

Fleury finished the night with 27 saves on 30 Detroit shots. Osgood stopped 31 of 32 Pittsburgh chances, including a Malkin breakaway early in the second period.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had one chance with the extra attacker while Pittsburgh had two.

The two teams will meet in Game Two on Sunday night.


The Red Wings played without Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, both of whom missed the end of the Western Conference Finals with injuries. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson returned to the Detroit lineup to start the Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup Finals Thoughts, Game One Pregame

It’s been quiet around here since the Red Wings finished off the Blackhawks and for good reason. Like the Wings themselves, I’ve needed some time off. Much like my hiatus at the end of the regular season it hasn’t been for any bad things, just very busy right now.

Detroit finished off Chicago in five games an as a reward got all of two days rest. Their injuries at the end of the Western Conference Finals have partially healed but they’re still hurting. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson are scheduled to return to the lineup tonight but it’s looking like the Red Wings will begin the Stanley Cup Finals without Pavel Datsyuk or Kris Draper.

It looks like this puts Chris Chelios and Derek Meech back in the press box while Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino make their first-ever Finals appearances.

A lot has been made of what the Pittsburgh Penguins learned during last year’s Finals loss to the Red Wings and that Pittsburgh is a better team than last season. While I won’t deny they’re playing extremely well, I have a hard time taking them seriously.

Their team has gotten better but last year they had Marian Hossa and this year they don’t. That’s a huge loss, one that the addition of Bill Guerin doesn’t make up for. While the Penguins individual players have gotten better I don’t see them as being as talented of a team as a whole without Hossa.

It’s not like the Red Wings haven’t gotten better, too. Assuming Datsyuk and Draper will make an appearance in this series, the only players they’ve lost from last year’s team are Dallas Drake and Andreas Lilja. Lilja has been more than capably replaced by Jonathan Ericsson. Drake’s spot in the lineup has been taken by the aforementioned Hossa, who defected to the Red Wings over the summer.

Hossa is the key to this series, to me. The Penguins couldn’t beat the Red Wings last year when they had Hossa but now they’re expected to when not only do they not have him but Detroit does? On paper, the Penguins are toast.

Of course, the games aren’t played on paper. Cliche but true.

Detroit’s defense will be the other key. Ericsson plays on the Wings’ third defense pairing and could fight for a spot on the top pair of any of the teams the Penguins have eliminated thus far. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have torn it up against Kimmo Timonen and Mike Green and Tim Gleason but will that continue against Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall?

The Wings and Penguins split the regular season series this season, one game a defensive collapse by Detroit leading to a 7-6 Pittsburgh win, the other being a dominating defensive performance by the Red Wings in a 3-1 win.

That stresses to me the importance of defense in this series. If the Wings shut things down like they’ve done all but one game of these playoffs, they have the series. If it becomes a run-and-gun game then they lose their advantage and the Penguins have a chance.

Red Wings to Host Game One Against Penguins on Saturday

The National Hockey League has released the schedule for the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, featuring the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The series will open in Detroit with games on back-to-back nights, Saturday and Sunday of this week before shifting to Pittsburgh. It is the first time since 1955 that the Finals will see games on consecutive days.

The full schedule is as follows:

Game 1 – May 30 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 2 – May 31 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 3 – June 2 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 4 – June 4 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 5 – June 6 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 6 – June 9 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 7 – June 12 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM