Stanley Cup Finals Game Seven: Why Detroit Is Repeating As Stanley Cup Champions

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Stanley Cup Finals Game Seven: Why Detroit Is Repeating As Stanley Cup Champions
(Photo by: Harry How/Getty Images)

It didn’t happen until 9:18 of the third period.

Penguin star Evgeni Malkin was whistled for a cross-check, giving the Penguins its first trip to the sin bin in Game Six.

In Detroit, fans ate it up. They blamed the refs for the loss. They said the game was rigged. They said Gary Bettman and the NHL are doing whatever they could to put the Stanley Cup in the hands of 21-year-old phenom Sidney Crosby.

The truth is that the Wings are the ones who lost Game Six. But rest assured, Detroit will win Game Seven.

Fans ignored the fact that there were only four penalties called in Game Six; two for Detroit and two for Pittsburgh. Detroit was whistled twice in the first period, and Pittsburgh got hit twice in the third. In the second period, there wasn’t a single penalty called.

This has been a common theme all series long. Minus the Penguin meltdowns in Game Two and Game Five, the officials have done whatever they could to swallow the whistles and let the boys play hockey, old school-style.

Don’t expect anything different on Friday. Although the game with be full of tension, don’t expect too many penalties. There’s way too much on the line to risk a bad, wishy-washy call.

However, the lack of penalties is not the only major theme prevalent. It has been well known that the home team dominates in this series.

Here’s what we know so far. Detroit has outscored Pittsburgh 11-2 in three games at Joe Louis Arena. That dominance extends beyond this series, as the Wings are 11-1 at home in these playoffs. Against Pittsburgh, Detroit is 5-1 combined in two Stanley Cup Finals. Both those losses mentioned occurred in overtime.

Now, onto the wonderful, reliable and cliché historical figures everyone likes to use. The last time a road team won a Stanley Cup Game Seven on the road: 1971, when the Montreal Canadiens knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks. The last time any road team won a Game Seven on the road: 1979, when the Pittsburgh Pirates took out the Baltimore Orioles.

In between then and now, 18 Game Sevens in a final series have been played. The home team has won all of them.

The stats, however, mean nothing at this point. It’s all about who wins on Friday. Statistics aside, this is an experienced team that has faced adversity more than once. Almost every player on the Wings roster has at least one Stanley Cup, with many holding multiple championship rings.

Out of three home games this series, Detroit has pushed the Pens to a meltdown twice. No one should expect anything else now. This wise, talented veteran squad should expect to take Joe Louis Arena by storm.

In Game Five, Pittsburgh was rattled by the home crowd. Expect nothing less than a repeat now, as a city looking for something to cheer about will be as loud and explosive as ever.

Will the Pavel Datsyuk storyline come into play? How about the Marian Hossa one? Or maybe the Chris Osgood story, playing on his head once again for another Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy that has eluded him. While all of these are interesting story lines, there’s one thing Detroit knows how to keep in mind: none of it matters.

It’s a team game, and this is all about team.

Pittsburgh will have its day. Crosby and Malkin will one day hoist the Cup high above their heads. But right now, it’s still Detroit’s time. The immature and inexperienced Pens still have a bit of growing up to do. For now, they remain as Little Brother.

Obviously, this is all speculation. But there’s a few certainties as we count down to the final opening puck drop. There will be no more hockey practices this season. By Saturday morning, the NHL season will be complete. And there will be a parade in the coming days.

Expect the Holy Grail to make yet another march down Woodward Ave. this weekend.

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