2009 Stanley Cup Finals: So What Did Pittsburgh Learn in 12 Months?

Well, something in my estimation. Both of themselves and about their opponent.

Namely, one Chris Osgood.

And as any casual hockey fan knows, there's a myth being perpetrated that in any series the Red Wings go in to, chances are, the other team's goaltender is going to get the advantage over the blonde headed 36-year old from Peace River, Alberta.

Like I said, it's a myth.

Because if these last two playoff runs have told us anything, it's that Osgood is a money goaltender. He may have his flubs during the regular season. But playoff time is winning time. And when it comes to that time of the year, there's no goaltender that's been better.

That having been said, I think Pittsburgh looked much better last night than they did after Game 1 last year. Detroit prides itself on dominating territorially through puck possession. From what I saw, the game was fairly even through the first 40 minutes with the Pens having dominating large stretches of the middle frame. If not for the aforementioned Osgood, they, and not the Wings, could have had the lead going into the third with the chance to steal home ice away right off the bat.

Not to be, of course. Thanks in part to those ridiculously lively boards in Detroit. After a turnover in their own zone, the Pens scrambled around and watched Brian Rafalski's shot from the point hit hard off the end boards right to Johan Franzen who backhanded a shot off the sprawled leg of Marc Andre Fleury and into the net for the eventual game winner.

And for insurance, Justin Abdelkader (whose last name sounds like some kind of a move you'd employ in MMA) scored his first goal of the playoffs early in the third to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.

Some improvement by the Pittsburghers, but they find themselves in the same 0-1 hole they did last year. And with a quick turnaround to boot.

You'd figure that would give the Pens an advantage, too, right?

Well, we'll see about that. Mark at Andrew's DSP and Chuck Carlton at The Dallas Morning News are of the opinion that this isn't quite a must win tonight for the Penguins, but one that they'd really like to have so you're not in an 0-2 hole.

Me? I think it is a must win for Pittsburgh. The last time the Red Wings blew a 2-0 series lead was 10 years ago against Colorado. And if you fancy yourself as a team that did learn something from last year's Stanley Cup Finals, we need to see some proof beyond simply being more competitive early in the series.

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