DETROIT – A report card look at Game 5 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup final between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
Penguins, D: Give them credit for coming out strong and forechecking relentlessly during the first five minutes of the game. Scold them for essentially disappearing after that – except when taking needless penalties that allowed Detroit to blow the game open. It was the first time this series that Evgeni Malkin was held off the scoresheet and the third time Sidney Crosby failed to appear there.
Red Wings, A: Pavel Datsyuk’s return paid immediate dividends and the Red Wings forwards delivered their most explosive performance of this Stanley Cup final. They were aided by a slew of power plays in the second period. Henrik Zetterberg removed any notion that he might be worn out, scoring a goal and an assist while frustrating Crosby with his relentless checking.
Penguins, C-minus: Each of the six Penguins blue-liners was on the ice for at least one goal by Detroit. They had trouble handling the determined Red Wings down low, particularly while killing penalties. This might have been the most pressure they’ve dealt with all series.
Red Wings, A: The group seemed far more composed here than the past two games at Mellon Arena, where it was guilty of several bad turnovers. They also did a good job on the power play, with Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski each scoring during the avalanche of goals in the second period. A solid performance all-around.
Penguins, D: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma pulled Marc-Andre Fleury after surrendering five goals on 21 shots. While he wasn’t entirely to blame, The Flower wasn’t able to deliver a big save either. The tricky boards at Joe Louis Arena continue to give Fleury fits – he had to dive to stop a clear-in and nearly had another puck get behind him after caroming off the end boards.
Red Wings, A: Chris Osgood stood tall during some early pressure from the Penguins and had a relatively easy night from there. He even managed to make his presence felt at the other end, finding Marian Hossa with a long breakout pass that led directly to the team’s second goal early in the middle period. That was arguably the turning point of the game.
CP’s TOP THREE
1. Zetterberg. Quietly has six points in the series. Might deserve a few more Conn Smythe votes too.
2. Datsyuk. Almost no hint that he missed 18 days with a foot injury.
3. Osgood. “Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!” The love-in continues at Joe Louis Arena.