This interest Pittsburgh Penguins
coach Dan Bylsma
has with Superman and his cape is actually kind of refreshing to show how anyone can be a superhero in a fast-paced team game like hockey.
In Game 6, Bylsma wasn't speaking of anyone in particular, but the guy everyone was pointing to was defenseman Rob Scuderi
, whose goaltending show in the final 20 seconds of the game with Pittsburgh leading 2-1 and Detroit's game-winning goal machine Johan Franzen
(eight GWG's in regular season and three more in the playoffs) hacking and whacking away at the puck saved the day and helped force Game 7 Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
Scuderi stopped one shot with his stick. Then, he spread-eagled in perfect butterfly goaltending style -- with Marc-Andre Fleury
a little out of position -- to stop a couple other attempts with foot and hand and who knows what else until he got a stoppage in play with just 13.2 seconds left.
Said Bylsma: "I think that's the story line of the playoffs, when your team can play well enough that different people can put on the cape on any given night."
No points by Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin
and goals by Jordan Staal
and Tyler Kennedy
and, well, badge-of-courage efforts like the one by a shot-blocking Scuderi.
Scuderi didn't mind taking one on the chin to help the Penguins for a Game 7 at Detroit on Friday night.
Not far away, Staal was laughing and said, "Throw some pads on him and he'd be a heck of a goalie."
The cape theory, Part II --
Tuesday night's Game 6 was the first-ever postseason win for the Penguins in which Evgeni Malkin
and Sidney Crosby
both played but neither registered a goal or an assist.
Pittsburgh had previously lost all eight playoff games in which both Malkin and Crosby were held scoreless.
Flower power --
The late breakaway save by Marc-Andre Fleury
on Dan Cleary
with 1:38 left in Game 6 was just icing on the cake in Pittsburgh's 2-1 .
Said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: "In the end, probably Fleury ends up being a bit of a story for them with the way it went in the third period. But both goaltenders gave their team a chance."
Said Fleury: "To be alive and to go to that Game 7 is just awesome. To have a chance to make the save or to win the Cup is just great."
When time stands still --
Big games. Big saves. Time doesn't just tick, tick, tick away. It sometimes stands still for a goaltender when he's facing shot after shot like Detroit's Chris Osgood
did in the first 10 minutes of Game 6.
Pittsburgh's Bill Guerin
had five shots in those first 10 minutes.
"I thought the first 10 minutes felt like 40 minutes," Osgood said. "We were hoping to get a better start, that's for sure."
Rings for one side --
The Red Wings seek the 12th Stanley Cup in franchise history and their fifth championship since 1997. They would be the first repeat champion since they captured consecutive titles in 1997 and 1998.
The Penguins are seeking their third Stanley Cup and first since 1992.
History repeats --
Home teams have a 12-2 record in the previous Game 7's in Stanley Cup Final history since the NHL went to the best-of-7 format in 1939.
But here's a twist. Five times in the last eight Final series, we've been in this winner-take-all situation. It started with Colorado beating New Jersey in 2001. Then, in 2003, the Devils came right back and beat Anaheim in seven games. Tampa Bay defeated Calgary in seven in 2004. Carolina edged Edmonton in 2006 and now Detroit hosts Pittsburgh.
"Mike (Red Wings coach Babcock) and I were both on the losing end of that one against the Devils in 2003," Bylsma said. "It wasn't a good feeling watching the other team go out there and celebrate. I'm sure he feels the same as I do. We don't want to have to feel that way again Friday night."
Game 7 participants, no edge there --
For the record, here are the players who have been involved in a Game 7 in the Cup Final:
-- with New Jersey in a losing effort to Colorado in 2001 and also losing with Anaheim vs. New Jersey in 2003; Brian Rafalski
-- New Jersey over Anaheim in 2003; Ruslan Fedotenko
-- Tampa Bay over Calgary in 2004; Craig Adams
-- Carolina over Edmonton in 2006; Ty Conklin
-- Edmonton losing to Carolina in 2006.
Counting Babcock and Bylsma, that gives Detroit a 1-3 record in Stanley Cup Final Game 7's, while Pittsburgh is 2-2.
But that doesn't count the countless Game 7's every player on each side played in his backyard or driveway or local rink. It should be exciting.
Sticking in there --
Bylsma has a way of predicting when he thinks the character and will to win just seem to point to his Penguins to come up with a big win. We'll see in Game 7 how good he is.
It's all about passion and hard work and effort at this time of the year anyway, isn't it? Wanting it more than the other guy.
That's what the Penguins coach was talking about -- the drive of his team as he watched them hang in there until Staal and Kennedy could score en route to the win.
"When a team plays well enough, long enough," Bylsma said, "you're going to get those goals -- and different people are going to get a chance to put on the cape."
Now it's a marathon, not just a battle --
With Game 7 in the offing, Babcock said the Penguins simply were better than the Wings in Game 6.
"They won more races and more battles, were on top of us more, and they kept us to the outside," the coach said of the Pens.
The individual battles and races have now been multiplied by seven -- and it's a marathon.