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Cup final – Game 1 post-game

Some post-Game 1 observations and pre-Game 2 thoughts from Detroit at the Stanley Cup Final:

STAR GAZING

My three stars from Game 1 (a 3-1 Red Wings’ victory over the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena):

1 – C Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings. He owned the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 20 draws, including one against Penguins C Sidney Crosby to set up LW Johan Franzen’s winner in the second period.

2 – G Chris Osgood, Red Wings. Know this, doubters; if the Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury had matched Osgood’s timely saves, Fleury’s club would be up in this series.

3 – C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins. It’s no consolation, but his assist gave him the playoff scoring lead with 29 points.

SUPER MARIO ON SID

Penguins co-owner and all-time great Mario Lemieux broke form and spoke prior to Game 1 of the ECF. (Last year, Lemieux did not field questions from the media until after the SCF. He was ripped, but how much time anybody spent talking about him during that SCF? And there it is…)

Anyway, Lemieux was as open as I’ve heard him on his family’s relationship with Crosby, who has lived in Lemieux’s guest house the past four years. Observe:

“He’s a lot more mature than I was at 21,” Lemieux said. “He was a lot more mature at 18. I think you guys all know that from his interviews and from talking to him every day. He’s a special kid.

“He’s a better player than I was at the same age, for sure. Some of the things that he does on the ice – his strength, skating ability – (are) incredible. His passion for the game and his will to be the best each and every shift. His work ethic, he’s got it all.”

CROSBY IS THE NEW LAMBERT

Crosby has been compared to so many players in his four-year career that I’ve lost count. However, I’ve got a new one: former Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert.

That is what I thought after hearing Crosby’s response to a post-Game 1 encounter with Red Wings winger Kirk Maltby.

“He was doing what he always does,” Crosby said. “You know, he was giving guys lip service and things like that.

“I two handed him on top of the foot there as we were skating by. So he felt like it was necessary to keep talking after the game, and I thought I’d whack him and that was it.”

If the Penguins win the Cup, that defiant response to Crosby – like most teammates, clearly frustrated he let an winnable SCF opener slip away – will be remembered as much as any goal he score in this postseason. It will be remembered as his Lambert-like moment, when Crosby announced in his own way that nobody intimidates the Pittsburgh Penguins.

STAT THAT SHOULD INTEREST YOU

Malkin was credited with four shots in Game 1. He was credited with only one in Games 1 and 2 of the 2008 SCF.

DIGIT OF DOOM

On the second-period shift that resulted in Franzen’s winning goal for Detroit, Penguins Ds Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill were on the ice for two minutes and 22 seconds.

STAT THAT PROBABLY INTERESTS DAN BYLSMA

The Penguins are minus-42 overall on faceoffs in the playoffs. In 12 victories they are plus-14. In six losses they are minus-36.

So what say yinz? Can the Penguins down Detroit if those faceoff trends continue? via e-mail.

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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