Pens' Learning Experience Will Prove Beneficial in the Future

By Prisuta, Mike | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Pens' Learning Experience Will Prove Beneficial in the Future


Prisuta, Mike, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Nicklas Lidstrom's first act as the captain of the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings was premeditated.

What Lidstrom ultimately did on Wednesday night at Mellon Arena - - hand the Cup to first-time champion and 15-year NHL veteran Dallas Drake before anyone else -- couldn't have been more appropriate.

When Lidstrom first began pondering whether honoring Drake in such a fashion speaks volumes about the Red Wings' mind-set entering the just-completed Stanley Cup final.

"I started thinking about it, actually, in the first round," said Lidstrom, the first European captain to win a Stanley Cup.

And there you have it.

The Red Wings expected this all along.

Based on who they are and where they've been and what they've done, how could they not?

The Penguins viewed what for many in their ranks was their first Cup final as more of an I-think-I-can proposition.

They were a little too overwhelmed by their environment and a little too respectful of their opponent.

Again, given their histories and, in some cases, complete inability to grow a proper playoff beard, how could they not be?

And that was the ultimate difference, particularly in the first two games.

The Red Wings outscored the Penguins, 7-0, in the first two games in Detroit, and they seemingly had control of the puck the entire time.

But by the time the series shifted back to Pittsburgh, that had changed.

Sometime between the drop of the puck for Game 2 and Scotty Bowman's ceremonial opening faceoff prior to Game 3, the Penguins came to the conclusion that the Red Wings were just another hockey team, a very good one to be certain but just as certainly nothing more than that. …

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