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The Neutral Zone

Official 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs Thread

The place to talk hockey. NHL banter, discussions on the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Lake Erie Monsters, and college hockey.

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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Tue May 20, 2008 2:59 pm

Terrific, I hate Detroit, but I hate Pittsburgh. Can I root for an outbreak of dystentery?
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Tue May 20, 2008 4:41 pm

Steve Buffum wrote:Terrific, I hate Detroit, but I hate Pittsburgh. Can I root for an outbreak of dystentery?


Play Oregon Trail and name the people in your party 'Sidney Crosby', 'Evgeni Malkin', 'Pavel Datsyuk' and 'Henrik Zetterberg', all likely names of people who traveled the trail. Then, try to ford every river and maybe they'll all drown. It's like a technological age voodoo doll.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Tue May 20, 2008 4:47 pm

Skating Tripods wrote:
Steve Buffum wrote:Terrific, I hate Detroit, but I hate Pittsburgh. Can I root for an outbreak of dystentery?


Play Oregon Trail and name the people in your party 'Sidney Crosby', 'Evgeni Malkin', 'Pavel Datsyuk' and 'Henrik Zetterberg', all likely names of people who traveled the trail. Then, try to ford every river and maybe they'll all drown. It's like a technological age voodoo doll.


That's awesome, although I'm gonna have to name at least one Jonathan Papelbon, too. Maybe three or four of them.

But my boy loves Oregon Trail, so I actually know what you mean.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Sat May 24, 2008 12:44 pm

As it's said in golf, it's time to grip it and rip it. So with no further ado, here's my take on the Stanley Cup finals.

This is the series that the NHL might as well have wanted. But it's also the one they needed.

The youth of the Penguins may well be served in this series. And a good case can be made that the Pens had a tougher road to the finals than the Wings: even if the difference was the amplitude of their win over the Rangers. The Wings have yet to see a team like the Rangers in these playoffs. The Pens dispatched them in 5 games.

The Wings are the gold standard of the NHL at present. They have earned the distinction over the course of time and have maintained a veteran presence while gradually introducing youth to their own lineup. IOW, the Wings aren't the same collection of geezers that they've been in the past.

But a fact in evidence that might be the dirty little secret to Detroit's success this season is that the Wings got fat off a lot of junk food this season.

It doesn't mean that they aren't a good team. They are good. Very good, in fact. But their primary competition (their division) consisted of Chicago, Columbus, St. Louis and Nashville. Only Nashville made the playoffs out of that quartet: as the 8th seed. The only division weaker than the Central was the Southeast.

Now Detroit did what they needed to do: they beat up their weak divisional competition and held serve against the rest. But I would submit that the Pittsburgh had much tougher overall divisional competition with New Jersey, the Rangers and Islanders and Philly. I suspect those teams night in and night out steeled them more than Detroit's playing in their division of the almighty West did.

Overall, the Pens are a slightly younger version of Wings. They have better overall toughness and a good motor that hasn't shown much sign of letup. The Wings are a smart team and you do need to use speed and precision in the passing game to beat them. The Pens are equipped to do both. The Wings have a punishing blue line who will make you pay if you mess up.

The player-by-player matchup is just about even. On paper, the only real advantage the Wings have over the Pens is in overall experience. But the Wings are a team that has spent the last 6 years since lifting the 2002 Stanley Cup trying not to trip too spectacularly in the playoffs. In large part, that strategy hasn't worked. But the Red Wings are once again on the precipice of greatness, an immovable object that is about to meet the irresistible force of the Penguins.

And that irresistible force has gained momentum and confidence in every playoff round and will have greater expectations on their shoulders in coming seasons. How the Pens maintain that momentum and confidence will tell the story in the Stanley Cup finals.

Yet, the Pens are unbeaten on home ice. They have three effective scoring lines. A blue line that has slapped a vice grip on every marquee forward they've come across. And a goalie who has been the hottest goalie in the league for the last three months.

Put all of this together and you have the best team in this year's Stanley Cup sweepstakes.

Not to say that a win against Detroit will come easily. I wouldn't be surprised if more than half of the games required OT to decide. Let's see if I'm right, but the matchup here has differences that are razor thin in damned near every case. There are no glaring advantages or disadvantages.

The Pens have had quite a ride to this point, and it is not yet over. The young Pens have exceeded everyones expectations to this point, mine included. At the start of the season, I only had the Pens going as far as the second round. But they have matured much more quickly than I figured and as the Rangers learned the hard way, they are a team that is not averse to physical play to get the message across.

A Pittsburgh win would be something of a surprise, but the Pens have yet to lose at home, while the Wings have managed to let down a couple of times on home ice when they could have gone for the jugular to close the deal on a series. The Wings will need to put a foot on the neck of the Pens if they have them on the ropes and I'm not so sure that Detroit possesses that intangible.

Seems like a long shot, but if Pittsburgh wins at the Joe in either Game 1 or 2 then this series could unravel quickly for an otherwise sharp team like the Wings. But that is precisely what will happen.

In the finals, I like the Pens to lift the Cup in five, sweeping their three at home.
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Unread postby Cerebral_DownTime » Sat May 24, 2008 5:43 pm

This is going to be a classic SCF. Im going with Detroit I love their experience.. The smart money always says "dont bet against the hot goalie". And the Pens have that. But I love Detroit to slow the game down. Defense wise they match up well with Pittsburgh's 1st line. I like it to go 7 games. As Crosby and Malkin go so do the Pens. Shut them down and you make their other lines beat you.
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Unread postby Funky Cold Luis Medina » Tue May 27, 2008 5:13 pm

Bigger diver: Filppula, Franzen, or Osgood?
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Tue May 27, 2008 5:22 pm

Cory Snyder wrote:Bigger diver: Filppula, Franzen, or Osgood?


All of the above.

Osgood's above that. Franzen should be. I expect it from Filppula.

Osgood doesn't need to resort to that, especially when Pittsburgh has gone 120 minutes without a goal in this series.

I still think it's a clean sweep for the home teams in this series. Obviously, that means Detroit in 7. I will say this. As I alluded to in my preview, faceoffs would be crucial. They certainly have thus far.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Tue May 27, 2008 5:26 pm

Skating Tripods wrote:I still think it's a clean sweep for the home teams in this series. Obviously, that means Detroit in 7. I will say this. As I alluded to in my preview, faceoffs would be crucial. They certainly have thus far.


I'll bite, from the perspective of a casual fan: this totally looks like a 4-game sweep from afar. The Penguins look discombobulated, timid, out of sync, and ClevelandIndianny on offense. They got nothin'. I appreciate that they should play better in The Ig, but ... they look completely overmatched, not unlike the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. They got there, and huzzah, and they're going to be good for a while, but ... um ... the series started Saturday, guys. Any time you feel like showing up would be good.

Wake me when they score. Or create only TEN fewer shots than the Wings.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Tue May 27, 2008 5:29 pm

Steve Buffum wrote:I'll bite, from the perspective of a casual fan: this totally looks like a 4-game sweep from afar. The Penguins look discombobulated, timid, out of sync, and ClevelandIndianny on offense. They got nothin'. I appreciate that they should play better in The Ig, but ... they look completely overmatched, not unlike the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. They got there, and huzzah, and they're going to be good for a while, but ... um ... the series started Saturday, guys. Any time you feel like showing up would be good.

Wake me when they score. Or create only TEN fewer shots than the Wings.


To play devil's advocate, Marc-Andre Fleury has been awful. The Penguins have had to come from behind on a well-oiled machine early in the game, and that's not easy to do with such an inexperienced team. They really should have only lost Game 1, 1-0, and the only legitimate goal was Zetterberg's PPG to drive the nail deeper in the final minute.

If Michel Therrien can get Crosby's line out there with some mismatches, he's going to get his. You can only keep him down for so long.

If Pittsburgh doesn't score first in Game 3, they're in real big trouble. They've got to start believing in themselves and play with a lead for a while. Then, you'll see this season become less of a mismatch.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Wed May 28, 2008 12:43 am

Skating Tripods wrote:
Steve Buffum wrote:I'll bite, from the perspective of a casual fan: this totally looks like a 4-game sweep from afar. The Penguins look discombobulated, timid, out of sync, and ClevelandIndianny on offense. They got nothin'. I appreciate that they should play better in The Ig, but ... they look completely overmatched, not unlike the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. They got there, and huzzah, and they're going to be good for a while, but ... um ... the series started Saturday, guys. Any time you feel like showing up would be good.

Wake me when they score. Or create only TEN fewer shots than the Wings.


To play devil's advocate, Marc-Andre Fleury has been awful. The Penguins have had to come from behind on a well-oiled machine early in the game, and that's not easy to do with such an inexperienced team. They really should have only lost Game 1, 1-0, and the only legitimate goal was Zetterberg's PPG to drive the nail deeper in the final minute.

If Michel Therrien can get Crosby's line out there with some mismatches, he's going to get his. You can only keep him down for so long.

If Pittsburgh doesn't score first in Game 3, they're in real big trouble. They've got to start believing in themselves and play with a lead for a while. Then, you'll see this season become less of a mismatch.


Agreed. The Pens are playing awful and are making the Wings look like world beaters.

Mike Lange made the observation on Pens radio last night that the Pens and the Wings have been horrible on the road historically in each others buildings. That's all well and good for the Pens, but they must grow a set and play the way they did to get this far. It's almost like they've forgotten how to fore check.

The Wings will continue to do what they are doing unless the Pens start challenging them on both ends of the ice. It can be done, but the Pens need to recognize the gravity of their situation and get on the attack.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Thu May 29, 2008 8:45 am

Skating Tripods wrote:
Steve Buffum wrote:Wake me when they score. Or create only TEN fewer shots than the Wings.


To play devil's advocate, Marc-Andre Fleury has been awful.

...

If Michel Therrien can get Crosby's line out there with some mismatches, he's going to get his. You can only keep him down for so long.

If Pittsburgh doesn't score first in Game 3, they're in real big trouble. They've got to start believing in themselves and play with a lead for a while. Then, you'll see this season become less of a mismatch.


Okay, then, there you go. 10 fewer shots, they scored, Fleury was much better, Crosby scored twice in 3 shots on goal, and Pittsburgh scored first. If you can grow a mullet and wear ridiculous suits, an ESPN gig awaits.

We'll see: I still like Detroit overall, but props to the Pens for making this back into a series.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Thu May 29, 2008 1:26 pm

Steve Buffum wrote:Okay, then, there you go. 10 fewer shots, they scored, Fleury was much better, Crosby scored twice in 3 shots on goal, and Pittsburgh scored first. If you can grow a mullet and wear ridiculous suits, an ESPN gig awaits.

We'll see: I still like Detroit overall, but props to the Pens for making this back into a series.


Outside of winning the game and scoring first, Pittsburgh survived a barrage in the third period from Detroit. That's absolutely huge for their confidence, and especially Fleury's.

Therrien got Crosby out there against the less skilled 4th line of the Wings and it paid dividends. Not to mention, Pittsburgh did a decent job in the faceoff circle, getting the mismatches at center that they needed. That worked out for them.

It's a series now and I fully expect 2-2 going back to Hockeytown.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Sat May 31, 2008 10:51 pm

I gotta say, this series is doing nothing for me. Admittedly, I'm not a big hockey fan ... but if you were hoping to draw in the non-hardcore fan, this isn't going to do it.

At 3 games to 1 now, I can't see this going more than five.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:24 am

This series is over.

Had the Pens played the way they did to get to the finals I think you'd see a legendary series in the making.

The Wings haven't done much more special than show up and do what they have been doing. And that is all they've really needed to do.

The Pens have scored four goals in four games. That's all you really need to know about the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. The Pens haven't shot at all in this series and they seem paralyzed when they want to shoot.

The Wings are a very good team and they will sense the urgency of winning it all at home on Monday. Despite the fact that they lost home Game 5s against Dallas and Nashville in this series, I just don't see that happening in this Game 5.

The Detroit Red Wings will lift the Stanley Cup Monday Night.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:30 pm

Detroit's just a better team. They're deeper, especially on defense, and Fleury's been horrible aside from Game 3.

I knew this was a defensive mismatch from the get go, but I wanted to give Pittsburgh the benefit of the doubt. They're done in 5, and it's on to the offseason.
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Unread postby Cerebral_DownTime » Mon Jun 02, 2008 12:19 am

Its over no team is going to take 3 in a row against Detroit. They are way too good for that. Bottom line I think Pittsburgh is a couple years too early. They are young and uber talented they will be back. Now lets all hope the Bluejackets make some noise in the offseason and make some strides for the '08/'09 season.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:51 am

Skating Tripods wrote:Detroit's just a better team. They're deeper, especially on defense, and Fleury's been horrible aside from Game 3.


Well, now, in Fleury's defense, he wasn't bad in Game 4. He didn't step up and have that Martin Brodeur/Patrick Roy kind of "I will win this game for you incompetent clods" moment, but he was as good as Osgood. There was just no one on the whole team capable of stepping up to make that One Defining Play that a team invariably needs to win the Cup against an opponent they don't simply overwhelm.

I'm with CDT: they're just a year (if not two) early. No shame in that ... but selfishly, it doesn't make for Great Hockey.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:57 pm

Fleury's given up 10 goals in four games. In relative terms, that's not bad. But when your team has only found the net four times in two out of four games, that becomes a problem.

I felt the Pens were a playoff team from the start of the season, but didn't really figure that Ottawa would fall off the radar screen and the Rangers would act like...well...the Rangers.

The Pens are probably a couple years away from being a yearly threat to lift the Cup. This off-season for them is big because they need to lock up Malkin. But if they can do that and agree to extensions with Fleury and Crosby, the Pens will have quite a core for a while.

But you have to like how the Wings have clamped down on the Pens in this series. They have put on a clinic on how to stymie an offensive attack and frustrate a young team.

I'm not a fan of the Wings, but I'll be watching tonight and will probably watch as they lift the Cup. They've earned it and it will have been one of the more dominant efforts in recent years.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:09 pm

Cerebral_DownTime wrote:Its over no team is going to take 3 in a row against Detroit. They are way too good for that. Bottom line I think Pittsburgh is a couple years too early. They are young and uber talented they will be back. Now lets all hope the Bluejackets make some noise in the offseason and make some strides for the '08/'09 season.


After watching these playoffs, I'm pretty much convinced that the Jackets will be in the playoffs next year assuming Howson and the Jackets FO do the right thing in the off-season.

Trading one or both of the 1st Round picks they have to score a first line C and first line D should do the trick. The Jackets, at this point, don't need youth (because they have plenty of it) as much as they need guys who know how to win and can translate that knowledge on the river.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:42 pm

Steve Buffum wrote:Well, now, in Fleury's defense, he wasn't bad in Game 4. He didn't step up and have that Martin Brodeur/Patrick Roy kind of "I will win this game for you incompetent clods" moment, but he was as good as Osgood. There was just no one on the whole team capable of stepping up to make that One Defining Play that a team invariably needs to win the Cup against an opponent they don't simply overwhelm.


Saying Fleury has been awful was a bit of an overstatement, I apologize. Even still, he isn't making the big saves. The Penguins got ambushed at the start of the third period in Game 4 and Fleury had to withstand that. Hudler's goal wasn't exactly a highlight reel play.

Honestly, Fleury should have given up 6 goals in 4 games, because that's how many have been legitimate good plays. The other 4 have been cheap goals that have gotten his team down or dug the hole deeper.

Sure, they are younger and inexperienced. Detroit's a machine, too. But Osgood outplaying Fleury is reason #1 why this is done in 5. The Penguins did a FANTASTIC job of keeping Detroit's shots outside of the prime scoring areas in Game 4. Fleury lets in a cheap goal, and they have to play catch up against the smartest team in the NHL.


buckeyehoppy wrote:After watching these playoffs, I'm pretty much convinced that the Jackets will be in the playoffs next year assuming Howson and the Jackets FO do the right thing in the off-season.

Trading one or both of the 1st Round picks they have to score a first line C and first line D should do the trick. The Jackets, at this point, don't need youth (because they have plenty of it) as much as they need guys who know how to win and can translate that knowledge on the river.


They need to keep at least one of them. They can afford to take a guy who is extremely rough around the edges, but with tons of upside, preferably a defenseman.

I assume that they will trade the 6 pick, unless a top 3 player drops. I'd love to see it in a Jokinen deal, as he gives Nash a bona fide centerman to play with on a nightly basis and a veteran guy.

Once again, I think their D just needs more depth. They need a sound, responsible minute-eater to play with Klesla, I will agree there. But some more depth, like the guys I wanted them to get at the deadline would suffice. You also can't expect Leclaire to be as good as he was.

On your Penguins point, they're two sound defenseman and a secondary scoring winger away from being there nearly every year. The East is a joke.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:40 am

Okay, THAT was a HOCKEY GAME.

Frankly, I thought the Penguins looked completely gassed ... in the FIRST OVERTIME. It's a great credit to them that they played good hockey (I mean, not "holding on by your fingernails" but "actual good hockey") in the second and third OTs.

I remember the ridiculous Florida-Colorado Roy-Beezer marathon that thrilled even a guy like me who doesn't really care about either team and isn't a big hockey fan: Game Five was That Kind of Game.

Kudos to everyone ... including Fleury, who I believe ended with an even thousand saves.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:55 am

What a phenomenal hockey game. That was the best game I've seen in quite a while.

I'm glad that a bad call didn't decide it either. I thought that both Cleary and Sykora's penalties were a bit questionable, but Hudler's laziness and careless use of his stick was undoubtedly the right call, and just a stupid penalty on his part.

Props to Fleury. He showed up tonight. Props to Sidney Crosby. I've always thought Ovechkin was better, but he was terrific in his own zone in OT. Not to mention, his work at centerman was HUGE after Gonchar went out in the third. Playing with 5 D and not sustaining any offensive pressure whatsoever is showing incredible heart and grit.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:35 pm

That was a great game last night. Marc-Andre Fleury was even more studly than he has been as he has gained confidence with every game. Last night's Game 5 won't hurt as the series now progresses to Game 6.

Detroit is 2-0 in this tournament on the road in Game 6, so that says something right there. The middle of last night's 3rd period showed that the Wings had the requisite urgency together to close the deal. But the Pens at home are no bargain and we'll see how the end of Game 5 motivates the Wings.

Toward this point in the series and the season, the games become a battle of wills. Both teams look weary and the big question here is who wants it more?

I'm pulling for Game 7, so I hope the Pens can put a lid on the Wings Game 6 success. Either way, the games are getting better as we go along, so Wednesday's game should be worth prying away from the Tribe.
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Unread postby skatingtripods » Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:10 pm

Well, congratulations to the Red Wings. Their suffocating D on Crosby and Malkin were the keys, along with Osgood being so much better than Fleury, except for Game 5. Fleury's two cheap goals last night did the Penguins in. I thought they played an excellent game, but could not get the puck to the middle of the ice.


Now the offseason begins. Should be fun because in the salary cap era, there are more and more free agents and more opportunities for GMs to get creative.
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Unread postby tbone » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:45 pm

Just posted about seeing the Cup last Saturday in Detroit...

http://www.theclevelandfan.com/boards/v ... php?t=7784
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:37 pm

Skating Tripods wrote:Well, congratulations to the Red Wings. Their suffocating D on Crosby and Malkin were the keys, along with Osgood being so much better than Fleury, except for Game 5. Fleury's two cheap goals last night did the Penguins in. I thought they played an excellent game, but could not get the puck to the middle of the ice.


Now the offseason begins. Should be fun because in the salary cap era, there are more and more free agents and more opportunities for GMs to get creative.


Pardon me for sleeping in |-) |-)

Tripods, congrats on the Red Wings win to lift the Cup. It was well deserved on their part and I could see them being around the mix for the finals for the next few years. The Wings have done a good job reloading the team to replace the geriatric ward they'd become.

I can also see this matchup happening again in the next few years as well. The Pens have some salary cap issues to deal with this off-season. But Shero has been pretty good so far at dealing with the intricacies of being a salary cap era GM.

A great season...and a great season's end, to be sure.
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Posts: 894
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:54 pm
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

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