So let me get this straight. It’s OK to play back-to-back games throughout the regular season and the first three rounds of playoffs. But when it comes to the Stanley Cup final, playing two games in two nights is an invitation for players to get seriously injured and the quality of play to sink faster than Barry Melrose’s coaching career.
I don’t get it. The fact that Game 1 and Game 2 are being playing this Saturday and Sunday — weekend nights in prime time — is the perfect opportunity for the NHL to flaunt its much-improved, high-speed, entertaining game. And yet players and media (who shouldn’t ever complain about spending less time in Detroit) are beefing over the schedule.
I guess I shouldn’t generalize and lump the Penguins players in with the Detroit players because the Pens obviously see the quick start to the series and the back-to-back games as a benefit to them. After all, it’s the Wings who are dealing with injuries to star players Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk. The Pens might also hold a psychological edge with the Wings so focused on the cramped schedule.
So based on the schedule alone, the Pens might be favored. But we all know there’s more to it, including the coaching matchup between Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and one of his biggest influences Mike Babcock of Detroit. The potentially classic series opens 8 p.m. Saturday and then continues Sunday. Get over it and just enjoy it — whether you’re media, a player or a fan.