Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was certainly weird. The Penguins jumped the Predators during the first 20 minutes thanks to an overturned goal, a gift 5-on-3 power play and a lucky bounce off a defenseman. Then the Predators spent nearly two full periods dominating the Penguins in a way never before seen in a Final. Then Jake Guentzel ended the drought with a game-winning goal.
What should we expect in Game 2? Will the Predators continue to dominate? Will Pekka Rinne be bad again? Will the Penguins continue to master the art of the dive?
I don’t know. But we’re doing a mailbag. I’m not even sure if those questions are in there. But let’s see!
According to the CBA, the Penguins are allowed to carry the two referees on their roster the way all teams carry the emergency third goaltender. That allows Mike Sullivan the ability to dress a normal lineup while gaining a huge advantage on borderline calls designed to help the NHL’s favorite team.
I know Penguins fans are sick of hearing about how they get all the calls, but the first period of Game 1 was incredible.
• PK Subban’s goal is overturned on an offside review. I’ve yet to see the angle that shows Filip Forsberg was definitively offside. If he was, hey, too bad, that’s the rule. No goal. But every angle available doesn’t show the skate off the ice, for sure.
• Trevor Daley and Patric Hornqvist flopped harder than the Baywatch movie and got both calls. Both! I am very much pro-diving, because referees don’t call penalties in the playoffs, and you got to do what you got to do. But for the Penguins to get two of those in one sequence? It’s unprecedented.
• Sidney Crosby unequivocally interfered with Mattias Ekholm before the power-play goal. It’s a penalty that’s always a penalty in the regular season and in the playoffs, it’s called most of the time. But if you’re calling the penalties that led to the 5-on-3, you have to call the one on Crosby. But, they didn’t.
"Are you okay, Sid? Do you need anything?"Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
They say calls even out but they didn’t in Game 1. Yeah, Evgeni Malkin’s slashing penalty on Subban was soft but it really didn’t even the ledger.
If you’re a Predators fan, you are mad both online and offline; if you’re a Penguins, you are mad about everyone else being mad.
My advice to Penguins fans? Own it. New England Patriots fans do not care that their team cheats and their owner and coach hang with Donald Trump because their team wins championships. If the only thing that ever happens to the Penguins is occasional preferential treatment from officials, lean into it. Laugh in people’s faces about it. Acknowledge it happens but tell everyone it’s fine. Tell them the Penguins deserve it. Own the fact that you’re heels and three wins away from being even bigger heels. It’s only going to get worse from here for you.
Matt MurrayDon Wright-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t think he’d have to eat it all that badly. If the Predators win Games 2 and 3 and score four goals in each, I wouldn’t rule it out. I’m not saying that would be the right move but if the Penguins get overwhelmed in the next two games like they did in Game 1, maybe Sullivan tells himself it’s a great way to shake things up.
If I’m the coach, the “it” Murray eats could be his blocker hand, and I’d still send him out there for the next game.
Two underreported things about The Catfish Guy:
1. Catfish is gross. It’s the worst seafood. Never order it. Get another seafood item on the menu.
2. Throwing seafood on the ice is dumb. No, it’s not as dumb as the Penguins mascot blaring that stupid horn, because why would the Penguins ever want to steal anything from the Capitals? That horn was going during that 5-on-3 in Game 1! It’s like in the NBA when music plays in the middle of a possession, only this was potentially the biggest possession of the game for the Penguins! Stop with the horn! It’s loud and some of us are old!
But the catfish is just a worse version of the Red Wings and their octopus. The octopus thing at least had some symbolism because the eight legs represented the eight wins it took to win the Cup back in the day. Some Predators fan saw this and ripped it off in the worst way possible. The catfish is to the octopus as the Baywatch movie is to the Baywatch television show.
I’ve thought a lot about the Baywatch movie this week. I’m sorry.
Justin SchultzCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Doesn’t it feel they should find a way? The Penguins have Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Ian Cole signed for next year with Schultz and Brian Dumoulin as RFAs. Fleury’s $5.75 million will either come off the books completely in a trade or partially in a buyout.
With about $25 million in space — but a lot of players to sign — yeah, Schultz should be a priority.
Especially when you consider the fragile nature of Letang’s various health situations, Schultz is excellent insurance on the power play and in the top four. Five years, $20-ish million dollars. Make it happen.
So that makes the Capitals the Evil Empire? Alex Ovechkin is Darth Vader and Matt Niskanen is Boba Fett? And Pittsburgh is Cloud City? So what about when Crosby went into the boards and the NHL didn’t make him go through concussion protocol? Is that the Galactic Senate not being aware of a phantom menace?
No, I’m seriously asking. I barely remember the Star Wars movies at this point. They’ve been replaced by the Marvel movies.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored 56 goals in 2005-06 riding shotgun with Joe Thornton and got a five-year, $15 million contract because of it. Thornton deserves no less than 15 percent of that money.
No, the answer isn’t Chris Kunitz.