DETROIT – A report card look at Game 2 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings:
Penguins, D-minus: The talented group of forwards that torched Ottawa, New York and Philadelphia to the tune of 51 goals in 14 games has gone silent, their longest goalless streak of the year coming at the worst possible time. Evgeni Malkin was again stunningly ineffective, failing to register a single shot on goal. Sidney Crosby was trying but not producing the end results. Marian Hossa and Petr Sykora were barely noticeable. Ryan Malone was so frustrated he kept taking stupid penalties. “We can’t get our forecheck going,” Sykora told CBC after the second period. “We can’t create turnovers, and that is how we create scoring chances.”
Red Wings, B-plus: Quick on the puck, patient with the defensive coverage and deadly on the turnovers. Valtteri Filppula scored a beauty to cement the victory and his second line with Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson was dynamite all night long. On the defensive side, they shut down Malkin’s unit. What else can you ask for.
Penguins, C: Hal Gill can’t handle the Red Wings’ forechecking speed. He looks rushed into making decisions with the puck that are usually the wrong ones. Star blue-liner Sergei Gonchar hasn’t looked comfortable. His usual tape-to-tape passes, key to Pittsburgh’s transition game, just aren’t as accurate through two games of the Cup final.
Wings, A-plus: Not sure what else needs to be said about Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart. Another near-perfect effort. The Lidstrom-Rafalski pairing contained Crosby. Kronwall had a huge hit on Jarkko Ruutu that help set the tone and Stuart scored the first goal on a smart play, waiting for his screen to develop before shooting. What a night for the Wings’ top four.
Penguins, B: Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t see the first goal, should have controlled a rebound better on the second and got beat by a sensational goal for No. 3. He was steady again in Game 2 and can’t do much when his team can’t score.
Wings, B: Chris Osgood didn’t have to do much again in Game 2 but when called upon he looked steady and composed. His rebound control was excellent.