At least for Game 6 tomorrow night, the Penguins have an edge.
Actually, two edges.
The first is psychological. In the crazy final minute of the third
period last night, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen had the Stanley Cup on
their sticks. Zetterberg failed to shoot the puck deep from the neutral
zone, Franzen couldn’t clear the Detroit zone, and Bingo!, tied game.
That has to be a monumental mind-f.
Then there’s the physical advantage. Young legs will recover faster from 110 minutes of pressure-packed hockey.
Check the Time on Ice last night: Nicklas Lidtsrom, 45:24. Bear in mind that the best defenceman in hockey is 38 years old.
Whitney is not a Norris Trophy finalist. But he’s 25, he playted 50:46
in Game 5 and he’ll be fresher than Lidstrom for Game 6.
Brian Rafalski is 34 and played 42:06. Brooks Orpik played 42:11 … but he’s 27.
Chris Osgood is 35. Marc-André Fleury, who was otherworldly last night, is 23.
And on down the line: Sidney Crosby is 20, Jordan Staal is 19, Evgeni Malkin is 21.
Don Cherry’s Conn Smythe candidate, Gary Roberts, is 42. But he’s a fitness freak. Roberts will be ready tomorrow night.
The Red Wings outshot Pittsburgh 27-6 through the third period and the first period of overtime. For the last 30 minutes of OT, Pittsburgh had a 12-11 shot advantage.
That’s the youth advantage.
Remember how poorly Dallas played in the first game of the Western Conference final. The Stars still felt the effects of that OT win over San Jose.
I think the Wings will suffer a more severe OT hangover than the Penguins.
Detroit plays elegant hockey, but Game 6 will be age over beauty.