Momma Gouche Getting Nervous?

The challenge for Momma Gouche. I guess I am forced to make sure that the Penguins win four of the next five games in the Pittsburgh/Detroit series, or something is going to get stuck in my craw. (probably the crow) I am laying low until this evening’s game as my adversaries would be quick to mockery.  I am pretty adept at putting up a façade, but I think it will require more than a front to foist the disciplined Red Wings. We must first remember those resilient boards, that actually lost the game for us. ‘Don’t take our eyes off the puck’.  I truly believe that the frustrating events that occurred in the game were the prime factors for Pittsburgh’s loss. However, tonight is a new ballgame, and if they can — attend to — and profit by — these follies, they quite possibly can tie this series. If not, then they will be fighting an almost impossible uphill battle.

Game one to the Red Wings

Most of the hockey media has already declared the Detroit Red Wings the winners of The Cup after one game?  Well I am an under-dog supporter and the fat lady has to sing before the series is over! She ain’t singing and not even humming yet. I said Pitt in Six and it is certainly still doable. Today’s game set the stage for the series. A win by Detroit and the Pens are in toruble, a win by the Pens and Maggie (the Monkey) will be right. So if I’m wrong – so be it. Saturday night the shots were coming fast and furious, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings vied for the first tally in the net. The speed of the action was fast – intense – and exciting.  Who was going to break the ice? Suddenly an innocent looking shot from Brad Stuart bounces of the resilient Joe Louis backboards — bounces out front — and off the leg of Marc-Andre Fleury. (An unassisted goal — his second of the play-offs.) Five minutes later Ruslan Fedotenko snatches a rebound from a shot of Evengi Malkin, Chris Osgood is not able to hang on to, and Fedotenko backhands it into the net. Later in the period on a breakaway by Malkin, the 38 year-old Osgood stalwartly stops the talented 23 year-old, and this may have been the crux of the game. (and one that Evengi will not soon forget). If Malkin scores the Pens may have been on their way to stop the dominance of the Red Wings. The first penalty of the game was meted out to Detroit 15 minutes into the game. The Penguins gave away the puck twice on this advantage and on their next power play gave the same performance. Here could be where the discipline and experience of the Red Wings comes in to play.  Pittsburgh then manages to hold off the Red Wings power-play with little difficulty and if memory serves me right, there were only three penalties in the game. With 50 seconds left in the second, Johan Franzen’s backhand puts Detroit ahead 2-1. Marc-Andre Fleury had looked a little shaky up until this point of the game and Chris Osgood has looked extremely steady and confident. The backbreaker for the Pens, who had played an excellent road game, was when fourth line player, Justin Abdelkader, snaps a shot (his first of the playoffs) over the shoulder of Fleury to give the Red Wings a 3-1 lead at 2:46 of the third. A little controversy was played out when Sidney Crosby had questioned whether there should have been a penalty shot when Zetterberg gloved the puck on Osgood’s back, while the puck was still in play – to no avail. Fleury made a gutsy move, when he came out of the net to challenge Samuelson, and deflected the puck off his stick late in the game to keep the game close. The weary Penguins battled to the last seconds, even with a two goal deficit. I have often questioned why a team would pull their goalie with seconds left , while down two goals. If anyone has seen a miracle happen in this situation, I’d like to hear from them. I have only watch this game for sixty some odd years.

Momma Gouche… A Play on Words

I have often been told that I am “smarter than the average bear”, and (that’s a bare fact). It has also been said don’t “monkey around” with “ Sure-Shot Shirl”.           

It has been apprised that Maggie the Monkey has predicted that the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to win The Stanley Cup. With her record of 0-5, that doesn’t bode too well for my success. I have never had much to do with monkeys, as I can’t abide their aroma; but with me in her stable she may improve her track record. As you might recall, I have gone out on a limb and said the Penguins in six. (I’m at 1 for 2) Nothing is for sure, even for Shirl, and some of my prognoses have gone “the way of the west-wind”. Most of my hockey cohorts have blatantly told me that Detroit is surely going to win, and Shirley (surely) I am way, way out on a limb. However, any one I know, knows that I never make positive statements, unless I have positive proof.” The proof is in the pudding” and even I (the guru) don’t have the crucial ingredients.  Well now that I have had my fun with my play on words, it may just all depend on “which way the wind blows”, or “how the cookie crumbles” — and more importantly –“ the puck bounces”. At least I am a good loser and all you nay-sayers, whom I hope are wrong, better remember that “an elephant never forgets” and get ready to “eat some crow”. On a more serious note, I have never been an advocate of – the home town advantage. True – it happens. (I don’t know the percentage), but a good team of athletes, dedicated to their cause, can prevail under any odds. May the best team win!  And — the most astute guru get ready to serve up the bird.

Detroit Red Wing Culture

At the start of the Stanley Cup  final, thought I’d share an article I liked on Detroit Red Wing culture/success. Admittedly, Fetisov, Konstantinov, Lidstrom, Hasek, Larionov, Fedorov etc provided a luxurious base for the Wing’s resolve to develop players patiently. The Habs had the Morenz, Blake, Richard, Harvey, Plante, Beliveau foundation to breed Cournoyer, Lemaire, Savard, Robinson, Lapointe, Lafleur, Shutt, Dryden group – but they also had outrageous, territorial expansion equity/rights advantage. Not to diminish Montreal accomplishments nor the legacy contribution of individual Red Wing players like Abel, Lindsay, Howe, Delvecchio, Ullman, and Yzerman, Detroit’s current success stands alone in hockey as a visionary commitment to developing individual players within team concept and systemic value add. Smells like the Patriots. As Brian Burke announces Leafs are re-tooling a grittier approach, hope he notes comments below re context of toughness. An aside: As well as he performed for the Leafs, how good might Borje Salming have been in the modern Wing’s culture? Or for that matter, Thomas Kaberle? Or lesser known, John Wright? Bill Gilligan? Paddy Adair? Thomas Polk?) Hey Gouche thought you’d like this, Patrick Keenan

Ozzie …the Dangerfield of Hockey “No Respect”.

Growing up I’ve always had a fascination for the underdogs in sports. My favorite sports movies are ‘Rudy’, ‘Rocky’ and ‘Miracle’ because they all deal with inspirational tales of athletes who showed tremendous heart and mental toughness as they beat enormous odds and achieved their dream. Always one to root for the underdog I’ve become in recent years a huge Chris Osgood fan. For years I’ve heard or read the various criticism that the Detroit Red Wings have won Stanley Cups in the past despite having Osgood in net. Even though he still hasn’t won over all the critics in his 15- year career, the man affectionately known in Detroit as “Ozzie” has a big fan in Wings GM Ken Holland. “He’s taken some criticism through the years, but it’s not his fault he’s on a good team,” Holland said. “You can’t win championships without great goaltending and he’s given us great goaltending.” Osgood who has three Stanley Cups on his resume and has won 389 career games, has shown tremendous heart when he easily could have gotten discouraged and developed poor working habits. In September 2001, Osgood’’s career hit a low when after six full seasons with the Wings they placed him on waivers where he was picked up by the struggling New York Islanders. After a little over a year on the Island this Alberta native was traded to the St. Louis Blues. Tied for number 10 on the all time career win list with 389, Osgood who is now 37 years-old had his career resurrected when in 2005/06 he signed a one year deal and began his second stint with the Wings. In his first year back Osgood suffered some nagging injuries and found himself playing second fiddle to Manny Legace, who was having a stellar season. As a backup Osgood never complained and had 20 wins in only 32 games. The following season he found himself backing up Dominik Hasek, and according to team management still didn’t complain and still kept up his superb practice habits. In 2007/08 Osgood played a tighter butterfly style winning 27 games and this time got his big break in the playoffs when Hasek struggled mightily against the Nashville Predators. Taking over last spring from Hasek, Osgood never looked back as he went 14-4 with a microscopic 1.55 GAA. A year later this veteran who had a dismal .887 GAA in the regular season is once again proving his critics wrong. “People that doubt me don’t really know me, so I don’t really listen to it,” Osgood who was given 10 days off from the team in mid-February to re-focus said. “What means most to me is when I step on the ice and fans are chanting my name.” It’s only fitting that the “Ozzie” has made his mark in a blue- collar city since he is a blue-collar kind of goalie. In his Red Wings career Osgood is second on the all time win goalies win list. (Terry Sawchuk first with 351). With two years left on his current contract there is a better than average chance that Osgood will move up to number one on that list. Still despite the many accomplishments and tenacity, many still doubted the goaltending of Osgood which one should never ever do.

MVP…MALKIN

MVP in the race for The Cup:  My first impression 0f Marian Hossa last season, when he played for Pittsburgh, was that he was, perhaps, the most skilled super star in the league. However, when he defected to Detroit, because he sought the ultimate prize — The Stanley Cup — I was disenchanted and didn’t hesitate to give my opinion to anyone that would listen. I said that he would — rue the day.  Even if I — rue the day — by eliminating him from my choice. (I’m a good loser. I can’t win them all.) Sidney Crosby is no doubt a brilliant addition to the hockey world, but I feel that frustration can get the better of him, and perhaps he is a bit moody when things don’t go his way. My choice for this years playoffs (as I am picking Pens in 6) is going to be Evengi Malkin, although I question his period of — no show – that occurred in part of the series against Washington. However, if Malkin is at his best in this coming series, he will come out the winner.  So much for my prediction. (partly based on prejudice)

Pittsburgh Doing It Momma Gouche’s Way

The “Final Curtain” has been raised! A feat that has not happened in the NHL for 25 years. There were no cell phones even when two teams repeated as Conference Champions and then meet for the Stanley Cup. Detroit schooled Pittsburgh last year but I know it is going to be different this year. Well, I’ve was right one out of two, as I predicted Detroit in five and Pittsburgh in five. The teams were right, just the amount of games were wrong. Not bad for an 80 year old hockey fanatic!!! I have stated before I love the Chicago Blackhawks but knew it was not their year, as it was not Pittsburgh year last year. The Blackhawks will be back for many years. It is the year of Malkin and Crosby. Now for the Finale.I recollect that I said Pittsburgh in six as the playoffs started and I have not changed my mind (ok give or take a game). The Pittsburgh Penguins have matured this past season and should play with a little more confidence and caution. They will be ready for the small things that make -or break -a play and take advantage of Detroits’ miscues. Many experts think the Red Wings will repeat, but what do they know, I am Momma Gouche and I have been right this entire playoff!

Detroit usually controls the boards and generally do not give up pucks a lot, so the Pens will have to out-maneuver them and not be intimidated. Evengi Malkin, last year was taken out of his rhythm, has been very skilled around the back of the net so far this playoff and he has dominated games. He will not be pushed around this year and is ready for what Detroit will throw at him. Do not forget he has that other superstar playing his best hockey of his young career. Crosby and Malkin are leading by example this year and if their teammates follow their lead, they should be in a position to score and hoist Stanley. With Sidney Crosby setting the pace for Guerin, Letang, Gonchar, Kunitz — Malkin will deliver the magic and of course do not forget the stalwart Marc-Andre Fleury in goal – I might even be able to cut my prediction to five. Of course this guru knows it all, and they will have to do it “My Way”… Guts and determination. See you crazy hockey fans at the Forum and of course at the parade at the Igloo! Momma Gouche