It's really not...it's not last year.
This year is different.
You can tell just by the way Geno is playing. You can tell by the extra effort by the role players. You can tell by the difference in the defense.
You can just tell.
It's not so much about the difference in players. It's the will. It's the desire. But probably most important, it's the coaching staff. Previously I wrote about the impact Bylsma has on this team. I mean, have you ever watched him? He's rock solid after every goal, for and against. He's all business.
On to the recap:
Right from the puck drop you could tell something was different. The Pens came out strong offensively. Enough to create for themselves a power play opportunity. After a few chances and some solid defense by the RW, Geno was the first to tally a goal for either team. His opened armed wing-spanned celebration made you want to hug him and at the same time jump on his back and let him carry you to another victory. But then it was all Redwings. They ended up not only capitalizing on a huge turn over by Scuderi to tie the game 1-1, but they had 19 SOG that period. But still, the Pens looked good offensively.
Initially, it was all RedWings. They scored under a minute into the second period to take the lead and the life out of the fans. But still, you could sense this wasn't going to be around for long. That was until the Pens took two bad penalties putting them in a 5 on 3 situation. At this point you wanted to throw a beer at the Red Wings fans sitting near you at the bar, but didn't want to get arrested. That is, until Jordan Staal made you wet your pants by tying the game 2-2 on a short-handed goal. He very well may have more short-handed goals than full strength goals. That was the turning point. After that it was all Pens offense. Just two minutes later Geno got the puck on a turnover creating a two on one chance with him and Crosby only for Crosby to slide a hot one past Osbad, making it 3-2. You could tell there that it wasn't over...that is, the Pens offensive stike. Just four minutes later TK 66'd a serious pass from Crosby to put the Pens up 4-2. That was it for the scoring.
When no one scored in a period you tend to think nothing happened. But that wasn't the case. The Pens didn't sit back and take this lead for granted like many teams at this point may just do. No. They continued their offensive pressure and maintained puck possession. Both teams played to their abilities but you could tell the RW were fading in the later half. They didn't play with that accuracy and patience you've seen from them all year. The Pens however didn't miss a beat. After some solid defense from the Pens from the first 15 minutes the Wings tried everything, but nothing was working. They ended up pulling Osbad in the last 2 minutes to try and use the man advantage only to get a hooking call on Kunitz who for some odd reasond didn't make it 5-2.
Nevertheless, the Pens win. The series is tied 2-2 back to Detroit on Saturday. Yes, things are different this year.
- The statistics oddly paint a different picture. Pens were outshot, out hit, and out drawn... but not outplayed...
- Pens blocked 15 shots to the RW's 9.
- Malkin tied Orpik with 5 hits each.
- Fleury stopped 37 of 39 shots.