There is a great scene in 'Hang 'Em High' when Clint Eastwood pulls down his scarf and says, "when you hang a man, you better look at him." When you have a chance to kill a man, you make sure you finish it. Pittsburgh had the Lightning reeling after game one and had the perfect opportunity to gain control of their Eastern Conference first round series. Instead they came out extremely flat, were down 3 - 0 and the end of the first period and Tampa Bay cruised to a 5 - 1 victory. You cannot lose a series in Game 2 but you can certainly lose ground and the Pens certainly did that.
Game 3 goes tonight in Tampa Bay where a "didn't we win a cup here not that long ago" crowd will be at sellout capacity. Pittsburgh has a strong road record at 25-11-6 but their home game 2 performance (after pitching a shutout) is more than a little disconcerting for the Penguin faithful. Tampa Bay have capitalized on their power play opportunities, got their defense involved and dominated the battle of the boards.
Star Selector fans, I give you my 5 Eastwood’s trying to answer the question, who will stay hot?
1) Vincent Lecavalier - he played a spirited game one, and a remarkable game two. I see nothing but good things playing in front of his home crowd.
2) Kris Letang - he played a great game one, and forgettable game 2 but he will improve his play and he should find the score sheet this game.
3) Eric Brewer - This is why the Lightning got him, his goal in game 2 was a top shelf rocket. I am not sure he will remain this hot, but is worth a 1st period start with a watchful eye.
4) Simon Gagne - His line seems to be clicking and with 3 points in game 2 you cannot ignore he might stay hot and roll. He is a vet and always is around the puck.
5) Victor Hedman - He has played amazing so far in this series and when he laces it up at home, he will go off. Maybe a long shot captain?
Big question is, Where is Steven Stamkos???
Continuing with the desert theme we head to,(if Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean's sources are accurate), what might the last NHL hockey to be played at Jobing Arena. Word from the Hockey Central dynamic duo is that an announcement of the Coyotes move back to Winnipeg will be announced immediately following their elimination from the post season. Detroit has a commanding 2 - 0 lead and will be doing everything possible to ensure this is the last home stand in Yotes history.
Five Star Selector keys for tonights game:
1. Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk has been dominant and don’t let the last line change match up promise by Phoenix Head Coach, Dave Tippett, sway you from starting the Red Wing superstar. Fact is he has been far and away the best player on the ice through the first two games and a must have in your starting line-up.
2. Keith Yandle. Yandle has done a great job all season quarterbacking the Coyote’s power play. Yandle will have to be at his best if Phoenix has any hopes of getting back into this series.
3. Tomas Holmstrom. Playoff road victories are often secured through ugly or grinder type goals and there is no better player that fits this description than the Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom. The Red Wing forward has made a living by going to the hard places on the ice and will be rewarded with a rebound or deflection goal tonight.
4. Shane Doan. Doan is coming off his first multi goal playoff game and Phoenix will be counting on another big performance from him tonight.
5. Johan Franzen. The ‘Mule’ has a history of scoring playoff goals in bunches and is a great pick for tonights game!