DETROIT – A report card look at Game 1 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup final between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
Penguins, B-minus: The Penguins dynamic duo each had their share of chances, but Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin couldn’t solve Chris Osgood. Even though Malkin picked up an assist on Ruslan Fedotenko’s goal, he was left kicking himself after failing to score on a clear breakaway when the game was tied 1-1. It was just the third time in 18 games this post-season that Crosby was held off the scoresheet.
Red Wings, A-minus: The depth was on display again as the Wings played without injured forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper. Johan Franzen scored his team-leading 11th of the playoffs, Justin Abdelkader got the first of his NHL career, Henrik Zetterberg performed well in a matchup with Crosby and Darren Helm was dominant in the faceoff circle.
Penguins, C: It was a fairly average night for the seven defencemen dressed by coach Dan Bylsma. They lost too many battles for the puck. Top blue-liner Sergei Gonchar didn’t look particularly engaged and needs to be better, particularly on the power play.
Red Wings, B-plus: Nicklas Lidstrom was solid in his first game back from an undisclosed injury and logged important minutes for coach Mike Babcock. Brad Stuart coughed up the puck on Pittsburgh’s lone goal but that was one of the few mistakes on this night.
Penguins, B: Two strange goals got behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Stuart’s point shot caromed off the endboards and in off the back of Fleury’s leg in the first period before Franzen beat him from behind the net late in the second. It was an otherwise solid night for The Flower.
Red Wings, A-plus: Osgood’s 13 saves during the second period included one on a Malkin breakaway and helped his team take the lead after 40 minutes. He completely shut the door in the third period, refusing to allow a critical goal that might have given Pittsburgh some serious life. His amazing spring continues.
CP’s TOP THREE
1. Osgood. He allowed one goal to a Penguins team that had scored 39 times during its last eight playoff games. Impressive.
2. Zetterberg. Earned an assist on the eventual game-winner and played the solid two-way game that earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy last year.
3. Malkin. Was the most dangerous-looking player in a Penguins uniform.