Not exactly a wildly entertaining Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and Red Wings, was it?
But it did have a handful of exciting moments and it also played out just as I suspected – that is, with the Pens looking much like the shellshocked Ottawa Senators against Anaheim last year.
Now don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Pittsburgh even the series tonight in Game 2; and I think Michel Therrien’s decision to bring Gary “Chuck Norris of the NHL” Roberts into the lineup could pay real dividends, if only on the emotional level.
Still, you can’t help but think the Wings are above it all at this stage of the post-season. You can’t say all of their best players have performed on this stage before, but they’ve got Cup experience in goal, on defense and at forward.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has a majority of players dealing for the first time with the increased intensity only the final brings. And that still looks to me to be the factor that puts Detroit in the driver’s seat.
• Far more entertaining than the game was commissioner Gary Bettman’s latest “State of The League” speech. According to those on scene, reporters’ gasps nearly drowned out the room as Bettman outlined the many and wondrous ways the NHL has never been better and therefore has barely a care in the world to worry about.
I remained stunned (keep your comments to yourself, wiseguys) for a few moments after Bettman left the podium, until I remembered he’s the commissioner of the owners, not the players nor the game itself. Of course the game is good for him and his band of merry moneymen.
It’s just a shame when you hear hockey people use Bettman’s rhetoric to mask and mute the many challenges the game actually faces in the name of staying relevant. To believe otherwise is a slap in the face of those who do the grunt work at ground level.
• It looks to have gotten a little lost in the shuffle here on the site, but my Proteau Type column that got a certain coaching icon’s undershorts in a twist can be found HERE.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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