Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Don Cherry’s Running Out of Jackets!

Maybe every playoff game should go to three overtimes that would have to be good for ratings. I’ve heard from a couple of non-hockey fans that they tuned-in last night and could not turn it off. All I could say is, “Yes, I told you it’s a beautiful game.” Although, I guess once you hit the third OT things do tend to get a little sloppy. (Then, Sykora rips a nasty dangle beating Osgood on the short side).

So, the Pens live to fight another day. Like any emotional win, game 6 could really go one of two ways for Crosby and Co: Either the momentum has swung to the Pens who will continue to play inspired hockey or the emotion drain of a 3OT game could get the best of them and they could come out flat. Let’s sure hope it’s the former, as the NHL’s dream match-up is getting all the attention it deserves. Especially with the NBA finals not until Thursday, all eyes can be on Game 6. According to ESPN, viewership of the finals is way up with Game 3 drawing 4 millions views compared to 1.7 last year. The Red Wings even beat out the Pistons run in the Eastern Conference Championship among Detroit viewers.

Last night’s game really had everything you could hope for in a game: a last minute desperation goal, a number of exciting odd-man rushes, an absolutely acrobatic performance out of Marc Andre Fleury, and great physical play. Here are a couple thoughts about the game:

- Kudos to the refs. During the game, I thought there may have been some questionable calls and non-calls. But as things came down to the wire, the refs let’em play, which made for an exciting ending. Of course, the high sticking call on Hudler had to be called.

- I agree with Don Cherry. That might have been one of the greatest playoff goaltending performances I have ever seen. J.S. Giguere and Marty Brodeur in the 2003 playoffs were right up there as well. 58 saves for Fleury!

- What a snipe by Sykora

- Adam Hall got lucky again. First he puts one off of Osgood’s rear-end and now he passed one to Kronwall who roofs it on his own goalie. A goal is still a goal. It wound up being the difference in the game.

- Even in defeat, Babcock’s system looked good. The deliberate cycles in the offensive zone, quick skating in the neutral zone, and stingy collapses in the defense zone was so very impressive. It’s been said way too many times but this really is Red Army hockey. (Anyone else catch the “This is your time!” Herb Brooks/Kurt Russell quote played over the Red Wings PA?)

- Speaking of the PA, give the Wings credit for some credit music selection. How cool was “Don’t Stop Believing” when they turn off the sound and the fans yell, “Born and raised in South Detroit!”

- Credit to Therrien for balancing his lines. Losing Malone and Gonchar (and then getting them back) probably forced him to rethink his offensive lines and his defensive pairings. Also, with young skaters who were clearly gassed by 3OT, Therrien knew to switch things up. And how bout his power play line? Hossa-Crosby-Malone with Malken and Gonchar at the point.

- Gonchar and Malone are warriors.

- Nik Lindstrom is unstoppable – 45 mins of TOI. (Rafalski is damn good too)

- If Datsyuk’s shot off the crossbar went in….damn…that’s just nuts

- Don Cherry beat me to this point too, but Holmstrom is gonna need a big game for the Wings. His work in front of the net is really the only way to foil the absurdity that is Marc Andre Fleury.

- The Pens still need a prayer to win this series…let’s at least hope it goes 7!

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