I don’t know too many people who predicted a Detroit sweep in this Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh. I know I didn’t.
While Detroit’s been the better team overall in my view, the way I’ve seen it, Pittsburgh has outplayed Detroit only in the second period of Game 1, the second half of the first period in Game 2 and in the third period of Game 3 when they outshot Detroit 10-3.
But, it’s been close the whole way and I have no reason to believe it’s going to be any different the deeper we go into this 2009 Final. Mike O’Hara hit it on the head in his column here on yournews.com prior to Game 3 when he said the Wings could just as easily have gone to Pittsburgh down two games to none as up two games to none. A goalpost here, a bounce there in either of those Series-opening games at the Joe Louis Arena. You get the idea. Mike’s 100% right.
You saw what bounces and close calls meant on Tuesday when in Game 3 it was Detroit hitting the post for a change. (Not to mention the crossbar). So now it’s a 2-1 Final in favor of Detroit and Game 4 tonight becomes oh-so-important. The Wings will either come home with a chance to win the 12th Stanley Cup in team history Saturday night, or this thing is going to be dead-even and a best two-out-of-three for the hardware.
Here are some stats to get you ready for Game 4 tonight:
• The Red Wings all-time Game 4 record in the Stanley Cup Final is 11-12. • The Red Wings all-time Game 4 record in all playoff series’ is 44-51 (the only other game in which Detroit has a losing record are Game 5’s—35-36). • Chris Osgood’s GAA in this series is 1.67. It was 1.47 in the Final last year against the Pens; 1.65 in 1998’s sweep of Washington. • Osgood’s 10-3 all-time won-loss record in the Final means he still has the best winning percentage (.769) of the 34 goalies with at least 10 decisions in the Final. Ken Dryden is second (24-8, .750). • Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury will, with a decision tonight, become the 35th goalie ever to record at least 10 decisions in the Cup Final. • Of the 34 goalies with at least 10 decisions in the Final, only 14 are over .500. 11 of the 14 are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The only 3 who are not are all active players: Osgood, Martin Brodeur (who might just sneak in, maybe) and J.S. Giguere. • We hate to bring this up, but it is what it is: 104 goalies have appeared in at least 1 Stanley Cup Final game. Of that select group, the highest goals-against-average of them all belongs to Osgood’s back-up, Ty Conklin. It’s 20.00. He gave up 2 goals in six minutes in his only Stanley Cup Final appearance. • Teams holding a 2-1 series lead have won the Cup 38 of 44 times (86.4%).
So here we go: Game 4. This is exciting, isn’t it?