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Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings is about to start… The Hockeytown crowd is going wild as CBC King Don Cherry holds a stuffed octopus at the northern end of the rink.

Writer’s Note: Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury leads the visiting team onto the ice before the national anthem and falls down flat on his face as the scruffy-faced puckstopper looks very excited. Is this Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals or an episode of Dancing with the Stars?


-Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang take a cross-checking penalty 3:51 into the first period as the Red Wings come out with more energy in front of the hometown Joe Louis Arena crowd.

Writer’s Note: Letang needs to be careful here. He is a talented young rookie defenseman but uber-talented veterans Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Cleary will eat the smallish QMJHL star up if he doesn’t stick to his position.

Detroit Red Wings super pest Tomas Holmstrom takes a high-sticking penalty 15 seconds later, nullifying the short Red Wings power play.

Writer’s Note: I realize Holmstrom is highly effective at goalie-crashing but he is not useful on the Wings power play if he pulls Sean Avery-esque antics.

Valtteri Filupula has a great scoring chance when he blows past Pens d-man Hall Gill and tries to stuff the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury, knocking the young goalies mask off in the process.

6:25 into the First Period- The Red Wings top line of Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom is buzzing in the Penguins zone, but most of the shots are coming from 30 feet away. Pens top two defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney will have their hands full all night with this dynamic triumvirate.

8:00 into the 1st- No goals yet. Both teams are playing tight defense with few scoring chances and a lot of excellent neutral zone play.

10:15 into the First Period- Nicklas Lidstrom takes a hooking penalty. Pens were 5 for 18 on the power play versus the Philadelphia Flyers during the Eastern Conference Finals and are instantly in a good position on the road in Game 1.

2 minutes later- The Red Wings kill off the Lidstrom penalty with ease. Zetterberg looks especially effective on the PK, rushing down the ice and killing a good 30 seconds off the power play.

12:38 into the First Period- Winnipeg native Darren Helm (#43) takes a tripping penalty. On the powerplay, Hossa has a great chance to score right in front of Wings goaltender Chris Osgood, but has his stick lifted by Wings d-man Brian Rafalski.

Writer’s Note: Hossa should have buried that. He had the best scoring chance of the first period and should’ve had a tighter grip on his stick. Don Cherry will have something to say about that during the first intermision on Coach’s Corner.

After the Wings kill off another penalty, Nicklas Lidstrom walks in and fires one by Fleury and looks to have the first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals. But referee Paul Devorski notices that Holmstrom interferes with Fleury and waves the goal off. With 4 and a half minutes left in the period, the Pens have yet another power play opportunity.

Writer’s Note: Holmstrom takes another penalty for goaltender interference. WHAT A BAD CALL. AN ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE GOALIE INTERFERENCE CALL by Devorski and O’Hallaran. Wings coach Mike Babcock is livid. So is the Illegal Curve team watching the game. The Refs need to chill.

Pittsburgh fails to score on their third power play of the period and look disorganized and sloppy.

19:00 of the First Period- Pens defenseman Hal Gill takes a high-sticking penalty with exactly one minute left in the period. The 6’7” blueliner looks dejected as he skates into the sin bin.

The First Period ends in a scoreless draw. The Red Wings outshoot the Penguins 12-11. The Wings will start the next period with one minute left in Hal Gill’s minor penalty.

Writer’s First Period Analysis: Wow. A pretty topsy-turvy opening frame. The Red Wings take a lot of uncharacteristic penalties but the Penguins fail to put any pucks behind Chris Osgood. I would give the slight edge in the period to the Wings who do an awesome job of killing off both of Holmstrom’s penalties. This game looks to be a wild affair as both teams have energy and the playoff fight in them. Sidney Crosby didn’t register anything on the scoresheet but did have two shots on net and looked more poised than Malkin, Staal or anyone else on the Pittsburgh roster.

Stay tuned for Period 2……

For Illegal Curve, I’m Ezra Ginsburg.