Can a goaltender be hotter than Chris Osgood
is right now?
The Detroit Red Wings
are two victories from the Stanley Cup largely because the Pittsburgh Penguins
can't get a puck past Osgood. He's been perfect through the first two games of the Final, stopping all 41 shots he's faced in 4-0 and 3-0 wins.
There's no question Osgood gets a lot of help from his teammates – the Wings take defense as seriously as they do offense, rarely letting an opponent, even one as talented as the Penguins, set up in their zone. But Osgood has the ability to stay sharp even when he's not seeing a lot of shots, then make the big save when the opposition gets a scoring chance. He's also been strong around his crease, keeping the puck out when the Penguins try to crash the net.
Osgood didn't start the Playoffs as the Wings' No. 1 netminder – Dominik Hasek
did. But he's two wins from being the starting goaltender on the second Stanley Cup champion of his career.
Three up –
Three players who've stepped it up in the Stanley Cup Final:
Brad Stuart –
The Wings acquired Stuart at the trade deadline to provide depth after a rash of injuries hit their defense corps. He's been their best defenseman, if not their best player, in the first two games of the Final, scoring a goal, adding an assist and going a combined plus-6 with defense partner Niklas Kronwall
– Samuelsson was the star of Game 1, scoring a pair of goals in Detroit's 4-0 win. The two goals matched his production through the first three rounds of the Playoffs.
Henrik Zetterberg –
Zetterberg and linemates Pavel Datsyuk
and Tomas Holmstrom
have had their way at both ends of the ice against Pittsburgh. Zetterberg has a goal and an assist, 14 shots on goal and is plus-1 while helping to keep the Penguins off the scoreboard through 120 minutes.
Three down –
Three players who haven't:
Evgeni Malkin –
The Hart Trophy finalist has been almost invisible in Pittsburgh's two games against Detroit. He had one shot in Game 1, none in Game 2, is minus-3 in the two games and has been blitzed in the faceoff circle, losing 16 of 24 draws.
Marc-Andre Fleury –
Fleury hasn't gotten the help that Osgood has at the other end of the ice, but he hasn't been as sharp as his Detroit counterpart, either. His giveaway in Game 1 led to Detroit's second goal, and he didn't stop a stoppable shot by Brad Stuart
in the first period of Game 2.
Sergei Gonchar –
Though he's averaged more than 28 minutes of ice time in the first two games, Gonchar hasn't produced much. Like his teammates, he has no points, and he's minus-1.
Injuries and other news
Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios
sat out the first two games of the Final with the same leg injury that sidelined him for Game 6 against Dallas. He insists he's ready to play, but the Wings were cautious.
The Red Wings got a boost – not that they needed one – when forward Johan Franzen
returned for Game 2 of the Final. Franzen had 12 goals in 11 postseason games this year before missing the next six with concussion-like symptoms. Franzen's return sent Darren McCarty
to the press box as a healthy scratch. … Pittsburgh forward Gary Roberts
also returned for Game 2. He had been out with pneumonia and then sat because coach Michel Therrien
didn't want to disrupt a winning combination. Georges Laraque
sat for the second game.
Playing hurt –
Pittsburgh forward Ryan Malone
sustained a broken nose after a big hit by Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall
in Game 1. He played a regular shift in Game 2.
Non-playoff teams –
Nashville center David Legwand
is still wearing a protective boot as he deals with the foot injury that hampered him late in the regular season and the playoffs. The Predators expect him to be ready for training camp. … Flyers GM Paul Holmgren
says forward Simon Gagne
is finally on the road to recovery from the post-concussion symptoms that cost him most of the season. Holmgren said Gagne has passed baseline and impact tests. … Colorado is waiting to see if captain Joe Sakic
will return next season. He can become a free agent on July 1 and has said he will take some time before deciding whether to play another season. Another Colorado player, Jaroslav Hlinka
, has signed a two-year deal with Linkopings HC of the Swedish League after one season with the Avalanche.
The week ahead –
The Stanley Cup Final comes to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1992 when Game 3 takes place Wednesday night at Mellon Arena. The teams then get two days off before Game 4 on Saturday – but if Penguins extend the series, there's only a one-day break before Game 5 in Detroit on Monday night.