My Three Stars from opening night of the playoffs:
But something tells me that Osgood, now 36 years old, is going to show some real poise and be a bedrock for the Red Wings -- not just in the opening series but throughout the playoffs. This may be the postseason in which he establishes himself as the most underrated goalie of his time. In the aftermath of Detroit's Stanley Cup win last year, the first thing Osgood talked about, even before saying he was happy to have secured the Cup, was how satisfying it was to stick it to his critics. Even then, Game 6 sweat still on his brow, he seemed a little ticked.
Osgood remade his goaltending style a couple of years ago, went to work and closed some holes. And last year he had the best postseason of his career: 14-4 record, 1.55 goals-against, three shutouts. Sure, he benefited from the fact that the Red Wings control the puck 90% of the time, but he was much more than good enough. He's an emotional player, more so than many goalies, and he plays best when he feels slighted. Despite his 59 career playoff wins, people do slight him -- opponents, scouts, fans. Even with three Stanley Cup rings (two earned as a starter) Osgood gets easily dismissed.
But 16 wins this spring would make it four, and give him 75 career postseason wins. What would we say about him then?
At 22 and with a run to the finals behind him, Malkin has matured tremendously. On many nights this season, he's been the best player in the world. He'll have a tough chore against the Flyers, especially when playing in Philadelphia in Games 3 and 4, but Malkin is not about to wither. Watch him forecheck, watch him score.
Rozsival did not handle this attention well. You've rarely seen a veteran player look so insecure, so suddenly indecisive about what to do when he got the puck. By mid-November he was a minus-10. It took him a while to work through it, and he might never have if the rowdies at MSG hadn't shifted their ire to high-priced, underachieving defenseman
Now here he is in the playoffs against a team that makes defensemen quake. In the Rangers' 4-3 Game 1 win, Rozsival stood up to some guys inside his own zone and played smartly on a couple of crucial third-period penalty kills. He wound up plus-1 and played a Rangers-high 28:15.
Sure, he got undressed by
But let's not forget the single most important factor in the Penguins' revival: Their average of 25 wins and 45 losses (plus the confusing numbers of ties, OTL's and shootout losses that clutter the NHL standings) from 2001-02 through 2005-06. Being really bad, and winning the 2005 draft lottery (i.e. winning the rights to