Pittsburgh gained tactical surprise in the first period by playing a full trap. Nothing like thrilling hockey! See some of the bitter comments by Pittsburgh fans in my previous post about how horrible Detroit's play style is. I hope they're happy to see their team bringing the hockey back with a good old-time-hockey 1-4 trap...
Andreas Lilja and Brad Stuart played way above their level at home in the finals; last night, they played well below it. Andreas Lilja especially was absolutely terrible, and played a pretty big part in all of Pittsburgh's goals.
Sadly, Michel Therrien's whining about the referees seems to have accomplished something. The refs were calling more penalties, more randomly, which basically brings the finals closer to the regular season in terms of refereeing.
Mike Babcock had some different comments to make after losing a game:
Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock blamed himself for keeping his top players, including Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, on the ice too much during a first period that Detroit largely dominated until Crosby scored at 17:25. "I thought those guys tried to do too much," Babcock said. "I thought the coach played them too much and I thought they tried to do too much. So they stayed on too long. And we didn't have the same kind of tempo coming off our bench that we did in the first couple of games. I like the fact that we're trying, but you've got to do more by doing less." - Detroit Free Press
Some other coach, who I won't name, might have behaved differently after losing a game.
Meanwhile, Mike Brophy keeps up his high standards of journalism at the Hockey News. After Game 2, this was the most boring series of hockey ever; now he's written an entire column gushing about how brilliant and wonderful Cindy Crosby is. Now the game wasn't boring; instead, the Penguins dominated it and the score "flattered the Red Wings". Yawn.
Similarly, Adam Proteau: "Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final was easily the best game of the series, thanks mostly to Sidney Crosby’s offensive heroics and Marc-Andre Fleury’s prowess in the Penguins net."
In terms of viewing quality, Game 3 was easily the worst game of the series. Pittsburgh played a trap and stifled the Wings' offense, and basically the first half of the game was awful hockey. Unless you're wearing league-issued Crosby blinkers, in which case it was brilliant. By the way, Fleury was crap; Franzen's shot should never have been a goal. Had Detroit gotten better shots, especially from their first line, Fleury would have lost the game for the Penguins. For what it's worth, Jatkoaika.com agrees with me on the level of play.
Obviously we must be wrong, because here's what the Canadian Press had to say:
"The 2008 Stanley Cup final finally lived up to its pre-series hype Wednesday night and delivered a breathtaking display of skill, talent and big hits in Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over Detroit."
"There was a bit of everything. And not a dull moment."
"A lot of people had also counted out seeing great hockey. They were wrong."
To make an unfair generalization, there's nothing like a Canadian hockey fan/journalist. They turn like a weathervane to the hockey wind. When their golden boy is held off the board, the series is boring and awful; when Cindy scores, everything is beautiful and perfect. In Canada, the wind doesn't blow: it sucks.
Then again, THN's polls are a bit weird. Who do you suppose are their three candidates for their own Coach of the Year trophy?
If you guessed Donald Duck, your hockey acumen is better than theirs. These are the choices you can vote for in their Coach of the Year poll:
Need I remind anyone that I already picked Therrien to win the Jack Adams this year? My logic is that he's by far the least deserving guy to win it. So was Alain Vigneault last year, and he won it. If any of these guys win it, it'll be an even greater travesty.
We'll see what happens on Saturday. If Detroit gets their act together and blows past Pittsburgh's trap, they'll take it back to the Joe with a 3-1 lead.