May 27, 2008
'83 Oilers all over againYoung Pens look like young Oil in their first attempt at bringing home Stanley
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
DETROIT -- We've seen this movie before.
Starring Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe and the Edmonton Oilers.
Well, not starring, actually. That's the point.
It was 1983, the first year the Oilers were in the playoffs.
If Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marian Hossa, Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pittsburgh Penguins are supposed to be the second coming of those Oilers of the '80s, then this is a do-over of that first year the Edmonton glory made it to the show.
In 1983 the Oilers were swept by the New York Islanders. Edmonton scored only six goals in the four games. Gretzky assisted on four of them. The scores were 2-0, 6-3, 5-1 and 4-2. Billy Smith had seven periods of shutout goaltending.
This year Crosby doesn't have a point because the Penguins have yet to produce even one single solitary goal, Chris Osgood having six straight periods of shutout play to this point. So far the scores have been 4-0 and 3-0.
Osgood, the Peace River born, Edmonton-raised netminder has put himself in position to become Terry Sawchuk, the legendary Red Wings goaltender who held the Montreal Canadiens to two goals in 1952 when Detroit swept the series and outscored the Canadiens 11-2, the lowest total of goals against in the history of the final. Nobody has ever registered three shutouts in anything shorter than a seven game final.
The talented young Penguins, like those old Oilers, may go on to win four Stanley Cups in a stretch of six seasons. But they aren't going to win this one.
This is a Detroit team which has learned a few lessons getting back here this year.
"Against Nashville, we were up 2-0, went to their building and didn't win. Last year we went to Calgary we were up 2-0 and didn't win."
This year, in the last round, the Wings had Dallas in a stranglehold and let them up off the mat.
"We're going to play better," promised Babcock. "We feel we can be better."
Sweep? Or series? That's how it set up going into Game 2. And it certainly looked like the hockey world got the answer here last night.
While there was at least some doubt about how Game 1 would turn out, the two teams feeling each other out in the first period and the Red Wings waiting to the third period to score three to put the Penguins away, this one didn't work that way.
In Game 2, it was just under seven minutes in when Rocky Mountain House native Brad Stuart scored with a blast from the point and five minutes later when Tomas Holmstrom made it 2-0. Detroit led 2-0 and Pittsburgh didn't even have a shot on goal.
At the time the shots were 8-0 Detroit. They ended up 12-6 for the period after a 16-4 margin in shots in the second period and a 9-3 edge in the three-goal third period in Game 1. In the scoreless second period of this one, the edge in shots was 11-6. The Wings erased all doubt when Valtteri Filppula scored a gorgeous goal on a breakaway despite being hauled down and ended up with a 11-10 edge in shots in the third and a 58-29 difference in shots over the last five periods. Malkin didn't have a single shot in this game.
The Penguins inability to score may be the storyline in Pittsburgh, but Osgood is becoming the story.
With 120 minutes of shutout goaltending in the final, he's put himself in position to set some interesting records for a final.
"I had no idea, to be honest with you. I try not to think about that. If I happen to pass things, I usually don't know about it. I like it that way. I need to be told after. I like to keep my mind on the game and not let my mind wander into things that really matter the most when I'm done playing," said Osgood when I asked him about it in the post game interview room.
It's hard not to notice that you haven't given up a goal yet, however.
"Yeah, because you want to keep it going," said Osgood. "But beyond that, that's it. Like I said, I'm more concerned with winning. I don't care as long as we win the game, whether it's 4-3 or whatever.
"All it means to me is that I'm confident and I'm going to try to do it for as long as I can. I feel pretty good about myself right now."
How long Osgood can keep Crosby, Malkin, Staal and the rest of the Penguins may be the only thing left in doubt about this Stanley Cup final.