Pensburgh managing editor Hooks Orpik and I chatted about the series so far and what we expect going forward. Below is the transcript from the first half of this chat — you can find the second half over at Pensburgh.
Jacob: So we're two games into this whole "Stanley Cup Final" thing. It's been...well, not great for me, personally, but what has surprised you the most — if anything — about the Penguins so far?
Jim: I've been pleasantly surprised at how well the Pens speed has matched up and translated into possession against the Sharks. You never know what you'll get when the styles from East to West combine, you know?
Jacob: Absolutely. I think we all knew the Penguins were a fast team, but it's been impressive to see them use it in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.
While there have certainly been some big hits in this series already, does it seem to you that the NBC Sports crew is trying to sell this matchup as being "heavier" than it actually is? It seems to me that these teams actually play a (relatively) similar style of hockey — the Sharks might have more size, but they're not exactly playing St. Louis Blues hockey.
Jim: It does seem like they're trying to ramp up every hit into some bone-crunching thing, not sure if that's how they want to raise the stakes for showing how intense it is, or what
Part of me thinks that's all they have to rope in casual fans, since there hasn't been a ton of goal scoring in the first two games.
Jacob: Obviously the "what happened to the offense" debate isn't something we need to get into here, but while these games have been low scoring I wouldn't call them boring, would you?
If anything I think this series makes a good case for how much fun low scoring hockey can be if the style of play is right. What do you think?
Jim: I don't think it's been boring at all, the action's been non-stop, just the puck isn't ending up in the net. If anything, Wednesday night looked like they were playing the old game you play when you don't have a goalie and you only count posts as credit for scoring a goal.
Speaking of, at one point earlier this season, someone had tracked it and the Pens were leading the league in posts hit. Last night SJ hit 5, including Hertl with 3 alone. Is that something new (relatively speaking) for the Sharks to hit the post so much?
Jacob: Last night was certainly an exception more than the rule. My totally unscientific hunch is that teams with better shooters hit the post more often because they're trying to pick corners...I'd love for someone else to spend a lot of time running the numbers on that.
But I think the Sharks hit the post just as much as anyone else — I don't know if I've ever seen one player hit the post three times in one night, though.
Jim: Yes, that certainly seemed like some bad luck...Though with how many times those guys shoot and * just * miss the net period, I guess it's not too crazy since they're aiming for such tiny windows of open net.
Jacob: Right, I think that speaks to how ginormous goalies are now and how talented they are. Which kind of leads me to my next question...this has been some pretty good goaltending, huh? Not bad for a couple kids.
Jim: Yeah, speaking of research that hasn't been fully fleshed out, I know Murray and Jones had only combined for 28 NHL playoff starts at the start of this series, and all of them have been in this season! That also has to be some kind of record for combined goalies with little experience.
But both have played incredibly well.
Jacob: Yeah, I think a lot of people sold both these goalies short entering the series. They've been very solid and, not to get ahead of ourselves, but it's pretty nice both these teams seem set in the goaltending department for years to come.
Jacob: Speaking of looking ahead... let's move on to what's to come in this series. How much do you think the game will change in San Jose with the Sharks getting last change and home-ice advantage?
See the second part of this chat over at Pensburgh.