The Pittsburgh Penguins were not expected to be contenders for the 2009 Stanley Cup.
Going into the playoffs, experts and fans doubted that the Penguins would even make it into the Eastern Conference Finals. However, after upsetting the Washington Capitals in the second round, the Penguins became strong favorites to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
But after losing two games in a row to the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals, I have just one question to ask the Penguins: What just happened?
The Penguins finished the year with a 45-28-9 record. They also went 1-1 against Detroit in the regular season. But now the real question is, Will a two game deficit be too difficult for the Pens to overcome?
I still think that the Penguins will win the series. After all, they overcame two straight losses against the Capitals to beat them in a seven-game series. Also, the Penguins will play the next two games at home, which could be a huge advantage for a team that needs both wins to stay in the series. Pittsburgh is also a team that can consistently keep focused and not worry about games in the past.
And finally, the Penguins have the Dynamic Duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both of whom will be huge factors for Pittsburgh. Despite being held scoreless in the first two games, Crosby, who had two assists against the Red Wings in the regular season, should be able to turn his performance around. After all, Crosby and Malkin have combined for 27 goals in the playoffs this year. Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, the two highest scorers for the Red Wings this postseason, have combined for just 20.
Many experts don’t agree with my thinking. For example, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun said, “No, the Red Wings were not overwhelmed this weekend. They were just good enough.”
But a few experts do think that the Pens could win the series. “The prevailing theory from the Penguins camp is it's all a matter of time,” said ESPN analyst Chris Burnside. “Stay the course and the ship will right itself.”
The Penguins are going to need a win when they return to Pittsburgh tonight, and they really need key players such as Malkin, Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to step up if they want to stay alive in the series and take back the Stanley Cup from the Red Wings.