There have been two teams, and two teams only, who have repeated as Stanley Cup champions between 1991 and 2008.
Larry Murphy has played for them both.
Murphy, the Hall of Fame defenseman, was on the Pittsburgh Penguins teams of 1991-92, and, of course, the Red Wings’ back-to-back champs of 1997-98.
I pointed that out to him today and he smiled sheepishly.
“Timing is everything!” he said, laughing.
Murphy, today, is enjoying his broadcasting life after toiling for nearly 20 years in the NHL.
Murphy works Red Wings games for Fox Sports Detroit, and also puts in time for the NHL Network on a national basis.
I nabbed him after the morning skate and asked him his impressions of Game One and the prospects for the rest of the series.
On the Pens in Game One this year as opposed to Game One in 2008: “I thought they were in the series early this time. They played a strong road game, but got a couple bad bounces and the puck ended up in their net. I think they’re realizing that when you play the Red Wings there’s such a small margin for error.”
On the Red Wings’ style of play in Game One, when I suggested that it looked like they played a “road game” in their own building: “That’s how they always play. So much of the Red Wings’ offense is based on playing good defense and the transition game. So it looks like they’re emphasizing defense. You won’t see players hanging out around the center red line, hoping for a turnover. That’s not acceptable here.”
On the Red Wings’ best offensive players also being their best defensive players: “Oh, no doubt! That’s what you want. If you have players who put up big numbers but then don’t do anything for you in your own zone, then it’s a wash. The Red Wings’ star players are always on the right side of the puck.”
On Evgeni Malkin, who Murphy said had to have a good start in this series: “I thought he played well. Last year he never got untracked. Obviously, he would have liked to score on the breakaway, but I thought he was into it. That said, he wasn’t the dominant player that we’ve seen in other rounds. But I think he got off to a pretty good start.”
On Sidney Crosby: “Obviously, he didn’t produce offensively the way he would have wanted, but I thought he was in the thick of things. Don’t forget–he’s going up against Henrik Zetterberg and that’s a tough matchup for any player. It wouldn’t surprise me if (Crosby) came out and got two or three points in Game Two.”
On the Penguins’ mind-set after Game One: “They have to make a series out of this. The longer it goes on, the more the pressure increases. But at least now they have the formula for winning. They just need to go out and do it. But there’s such a small margin for error when you play the Red Wings.”
On the importance of Game Two: “I think Game Two is always important because it’s the first game of a series where one team is facing adversity.”
I wrapped things up by observing that Murphy seems to really be enjoying himself as a broadcaster.
“Oh, it’s a lot of fun.
“One thing I learned is that it’s a lot easier being on the media side of things than being a player. Being a player, it was tough.
“Now I just say, ‘Come on, boys–it’s the easiest game in the world!’”
For other quotes after the Red Wings’ morning skate, go to www.twitter.com/thegregger63 and start scrolling!