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Crawford: Despite long odds, Pens need consistency

Sunday, 06.01.2008 / 4:45 PM / 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By NHL.com Staff

Los Angeles Kings head coach Marc Crawford broke down the Stanley Cup Final with NHL.com's Shawn P. Roarke.
Crawford's analysis (Part 1) | (Part 2)  
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Los Angeles Kings coach Marc Crawford knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. As a player with the Vancouver Canucks, Crawford advanced to the Stanley Cup in 1982 before his Canucks lost to the Islanders. As a coach, he won the Stanley Cup, leading the Colorado Avalanche to the 1996 crown, defeating Florida in four games.

Now the coach of the Kings, Crawford has agreed to share his expertise with NHL.com in breaking down the 2008 Stanley Cup Final between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins from a coach's viewpoint.

In his NHL.com exclusive analysis of Detroit's hard-fought 2-1 victory against the Penguins in Game 4 at Mellon Arena on Saturday night, Crawford gives his unique insights as a National Hockey League and Stanley Cup-winning coach.

For Crawford, Saturday night’s game was just as good as advertised.

"I didn't think the game disappointed anybody," he said. "I thought it was the type of tight-checking, hard-hitting, physical matchup that befitted a Game 4 in the Stanley Cup Final."

The game might be most remembered for a heroic 5-on-3 penalty kill by the Red Wings late in the third period as they attempted to protect their 2-1 lead. The 86-second kill proved to be a pivotal point in the game and the series. Crawford gives his take on how the Red Wings were able to stifle the potent Penguins PP.

"The rebounding concept in hockey is very much like basketball," he said, discussing the positional acumen of the Red Wings. "You have to go to the position where the rebound is going to be. And that's a skill.

“The read of that skill, that's why you see the guys who almost look like they're doing nothing out there – they have great reading and great rebounding skills – and those are the (Brian) Rafalskis, and the (Nicklas) Lidstroms, the (Niklas) Kronwalls, and on the other side the (Sergei) Gonchars. I think the Pittsburgh D has done a great job of being physical and getting sticks and really trying to nullify the Detroit PP, as well."

In fact, Crawford sees the penalty killing by both the Red Wings and the Penguins as underrated in this series, and gives his thoughts as to why they've each been so dominant.

"It's been very tactically and technically a very sound, sound penalty-killing series,” he said. “And you have to make great plays to score."

Saturday night, it was the Red Wings who made just one extra "great play," and they came away with a very crucial victory.

And while it seems as if Detroit is fully in the drivers' seat, with a chance to clinch Monday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Crawford believes that the longer the series goes, the more the young legs of the Penguins will begin to take control.

The Penguins will get a chance to prove him right Monday night. While you wait for Game 5, check out Crawford’s exclusive thoughts on Game 4 and his look ahead to Game 5. Here are some of the points he addresses in his exclusive podcast:
  • What it will take for the Pittsburgh Penguins to claw their way back into the series.   
  • The effect of the penalty kill on a long series, how teams are able to read and react and adjust between games to more fully utilize their special teams.
  • How the Penguins might be feeling at this stage in the series, and how difficult it is on an off-day, when all they want to do is to get playing again.
  • The skill of reading rebounds and how that translates into an effective penalty kill.
  • Pittsburgh’s Marian Hossa: the best defensive player you've never heard about?
  • The effect that veteran leadership can have on a series, especially as the series moves on and the games become so much more important.
You can hear Crawford's interview here:

Crawford's analysis (Part 1) | (Part 2)  






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