Tonight seems to be only a formality. The Red Wings are just too good, and coming home to a
great home crowd the team will put on its best performance and finish this series off. As great a season the Penguins have had, the West has been the better conference all along and they have proved such in the Finals.
However, accepting that you are an inferior team can have some positive effects in a head to head match up. When you know you are not better overall, you know what areas to focus on in order to squeak out wins. If you understand where you cannot match up you may actually have a better chance of winning because you know what parts of your game to push. It is a long shot at best, but when you are against the proverbial wall, you go all out.
Pittsburgh was successfully in Game Three when their forecheck caused turnovers, forcing the Wings to make mistakes. As great as Detroit is they are not perfect, and if you put enough effort in that up ice pressure there will be opportunities to capitalize on.
That capitalizing seems to be a problem, though. There are not enough goals from their big time players, and Malkin has looked askew all series. The Penguins were in Game Four the entire 60 minutes, but they missed chances to take back a lead. With nothing left to play for, it’s possible those nerves disappear and hockey becomes easier for them.
Then again, the Penguins haven’t seen this kind of adversity during the playoffs. Maybe tonight will be last gasp, a final sputter in a great effort from a group of kids. It may not be enough in the end, but all they have to do is get the series back to Pittsburgh. It may not happen, but that’s all they have to think about tonight. Dallas got the job done in their Game Five, and they looked far worse than Pittsburgh did at this juncture.
However, if it doesn’t happen for the kids, we get to see the coolest trophy in the world.