Penguins Notebook: Lack of penalties against Red Wings seems familiar
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Last year when the Penguins fell behind the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0, in the Stanley Cup final, then-coach Michel Therrien commented on the subtle obstruction and interference that Detroit players were committing against his players.
In addition to the déjà vu element of being down, 2-0, to the Red Wings again in this year's Stanley Cup final, the Penguins are encountering the same type of obstruction and interference by the Red Wings, who, it seems, are being allowed by the officials to toe that fine line between good defense and committing a penalty.
For the most part, the officials in Games 1 and 2 have ignored obstruction and interference penalties. A total of 10 penalties have been called, but five of those were assessed in the waning seconds of Game 2 Sunday night after the altercation between Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg. And only one interference penalty has been called during the finals, with Malkin being assessed that penalty in Game 2.
Two non-calls came back to haunt the Penguins in Game 2 when the Red Wings scored goals as a direct result of plays where the referees could have easily sent Red Wings players to the penalty box.
The Red Wings scored their first goal Sunday night when Mikael Samuelsson interfered with Malkin after a draw in the Penguins' zone. That allowed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to have an open shooting lane from the blue line to tie the score at 1-1.
The Red Wings scored the winning goal when Marian Hossa hooked Pascal Dupuis and then broke the stick as Dupuis attempted to leave the defensive zone. Hossa retrieved the puck, and a few seconds later, Valtteri Filppula threw a backhand over Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for a 2-1 lead.
But if the Penguins are steamed at the quality of officiating through two games, they are not letting on.
"They don't call a lot of the [penalties], but it's fine," defenseman Kris Letang said. "It's both ways. I think [the officiating] has been pretty good so far."
Detroit fourth-liner Justin Abdelkader leads all players with two goals in the Stanley Cup final. Getting production from third- and fourth-liners can be a huge lift at this time of the year when there is so much attention paid to defending first-and second-line players.
The Penguins' third or fourth lines have not yet produced a goal in this series, and the third line of Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy has not produced a goal since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against Carolina, an empty-netter by Kennedy. The last time the third line produced an even-strength goal was Game 7 of the Washington Capitals series when Staal scored.
"You always want to chip in as much as you can," Cooke said. "And sometimes it doesn't always mean on the score sheet. It could be killing penalties and creating momentum for your team. But obviously, playing with Jordan and [Kennedy], we want to help out offensively.
"We've been able to chip in throughout the playoffs. The more we can do, the better chance we have of winning."
Penguins stars Malkin and Sidney Crosby each were involved in end-of-game skirmishes in the first two games of the series. Crosby got into it with Kirk Maltby after Game 1 and Malkin fought with Zetterberg near the end of Game 2.
But coach Dan Bylsma is not concerned that any of those feelings will spill over into Game 3 tonight at Mellon Arena.
"You worry as a coach about frustration, and frustration is when you can't let go of previous events," Bylsma said. "I think our guys are doing a good job of refocusing and getting back ready for the next shift, the next period, the next game.
"So while you see that we're emotionally attached, I don't see the frustration lasting longer than coming back to the bench and then getting ready for the next shift."
First Published June 2, 2009 12:00 am