Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Stanley Cup Final Game 6
"2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings."
What a wonderful thing to read. I was a tad upset when my prediction - Wings in five - didn't work out but right now, I am just happy they won. The Red Wings put on yet another beautiful display of hockey to beat the Penguins 3-2 and win the Stanley Cup. They did it with dignity and grace and showed a certain elegance that other recent champions were unable to attain. Nick Lidstrom showed his class by handing the puck to Dallas Drake because of the veteran's hard work and effort. It wasn't Stevie Y putting it in Vlad's lap, but it was still pretty damn impressive.
I am sure that I will do a bit of a postmortem as well, but here are some thoughts from the game:
*After listening to NBC place Marc-Andre Fleury in the pantheon of great NHL goaltenders during the pregame and the first intermission, it was a true pleasure to see the second and third goals go right through his legs. Soft goals kill and their newly anointed goaltending god killed the Penguins.
*Quick quiz: The officiating was A-Inconsistent B-Infuriating C-Incompetent or D-All of the Above? I'll take D. That late penalty that led to the Pens second goal was a joke. After missing huge penalties all period long, the ref calls a little hook and gives Pittsburgh a gift. However, a nod has to be given because one of the refs was in the perfect position to judge the Wings third goal. There was no quick whistle like there was when Marty Straka scored what would have been the equalizer on Fleury back in the second round.
*Hopefully the demise of the Penguins will be the start of the end of this Italian soccer league style of playing hockey - you know: dive, cry and whine to grab the officials' attention. I don't think it will be - there is too much to gain from power plays - but one can hope. For now I am just happy to see that Cindy's hopes and prayers went unanswered.
*Still, I have to ask, why did Pittsburgh put Adam Hall on the ice with three minutes left while down two goals? I know Max Talbot scored the big goal last game, but still ...
*Brian Rafalski's goal to open the scoring was awesome, if only for the sharp contrast to the typical power plays that I am used to seeing watching the Rangers. Detroit cycled the puck around while keeping a guy in the paint to draw the attention of a defender and the goaltender before Rafalski got a great shot off through traffic to give the Wings a 1-0 goal.
*I also hope that Chris Osgood gets his number retired by Detroit when he retires. Three Cups - two that he was a primary reason for them winning - and over 300 wins in the red and white should assure him a spot in the rafters of Joe Louis.
*As a national broadcaster, NBC should be objective. Instead, the first 15 minutes of the broadcast was spent raving about Pittsburgh - even when interviewing Nick Lidstrom. Leave it to local broadcasters to pick a team to root for, there are fans out there of both squads watching a national telecast. NBC and Versus both did it all playoffs and thank goodness their prize children lost and will not make it to the Finals again anytime soon so I don't have to hear this garbage again.
*Greatest line of the night was by Pierre McGuire on Lidstrom and Rafalski: "They just squeeze the life out of the game." Yes, watching two of the best defensemen in the NHL work (and score) is watching them squeezing the life out of the game. Funny, he didn't say the same when Therrien put Hal Gill or Rob Scuderi on the ice ...
*How is it that when Fleury made a big save, he was treated by NBC as the second coming of George Vezina, but when Osgood made a stellar save, say when he rolled back against his body momentum to get his stick down and stone Gary Roberts during the second period, it was because Roberts couldn't make a good shot ... ???
*While I am picking on NBC, I am glad they got rid of that high power play camera, but they managed to suck more on their replays, setting up the replays too far in advance so they miss most faceoffs. I will repeat what I said earlier in the playoffs - NBC is treating the Stanley Cup Final as just another broadcast rather than something special. If they pulled half of the nonsense they did in these games during the Super Bowl, people would be fired.
*Much respect given to Ryan Malone. He had his face bashed in (broken nose) in Game 5 and played Game 6 without a visor or a cage. Serious man points for being a warrior. Same to Dan Cleary, who took a skate to the face in the third period and finished his shift before coming to the bench for repairs.
*Darren McCarty went from bankruptcy and rehab to raising the Stanley Cup. Wow.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Evgeni Malkin - one goal and one assist.
2-Brian Rafalski - one goal.
1-Henrik Zetterberg - game-winning goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Brian Rafalski - Rafalski's puck movement was key. I was going to give this star to all of the Red Wings defensemen but let's face it, the Penguins were gassed. And once Cindy finally took a real hit, crybaby was pretty much done for the game.
2-Pavel Datsyuk - Where I put Rafalski in for his puck movement, Datsyuk's puck possession was hugely impressive. He seemed to be the linchpin in Detroit's control of the tempo.
1-Henrik Zetterberg - Another Conn Smythe performance in a string of them. Big Z was tremendous in everything that he did - he forechecked, he backchecked, he killed penalties, he made smart passes, he scored. NBC didn't show it but I am sure he drove the bus over to the rink too. Zetterberg secured his place in the discussion for best overall player in the NHL (with Iggy, Vinny 04 and Ovie).