Earlier today, Hollis asked me how my gut was leaning. I told him I thought it’d be a close loss – or a blow-out win. My gut got it (mostly) right. What started out as a great Game 7, played really tight and very exciting, turned into a straight-up jailsexing at the big, burly hands of our winged wheelers. Playing the role of prison bitch: the NHL’s owned property. I assume they’re in the big house for something totally lame like tax evasion or some other fiduciary transgression.
For a minute, I’d like to put aside the complete jackassery of that fanbase (which is sure to continue all goddamn summer with the “if only Shane Doan had played, then you’d be sorry” bullshit), I would like to send some kudos to the Coyotes organization. That’s a tough situation those men are playing in — unsure of their ownership situation, not even sure if they’d be playing home games in Arizona this season — and they turned in one whole hell of a season. A season that no one expected much from turned into a Cinderella story, and they earned home ice advantage in a tournament that the entire world was convinced they’d miss out on again. I’d been tooting the “Wayne Gretzky’s totally fucking useless behind the bench” horn for years, and it turns out some fresh blood behind the bench was certainly helpful. Dave Tippett will be your runaway Jack Adams Trophy winner, and I don’t think anyone would argue that selection. Congratulations to the Phoenix Coyotes, and their actual fans.
How about that offensive explosion by the Wings? They looked downright dangerous for nearly the entire game. The power play was as terrifying as I’ve seen it look since the mid-to-late-90’s when it was practically automatic. Whole minors would go by with the puck in the Coyotes zone, crisp passes from tape-to-tape. That looked like a team that could win the whole damn thing. Question is – will that same version show up against San Jose? It’s been a long time since the Wings played more than a handful of games in a row like that, so it might be a lot to ask, but I’m asking anyway. If the guys can continue to play how they did tonight, they’ll have no issue with San Jose… or Chicago… or Vancouver… or whoever else you got.
That said, Ilya Bryzgalov scares the hell out of me. I’m very pleased he’s been dispatched. Earlier in the game, I was e-mailing with Disch and said that for as good as the Red Wings looked, Bryzgalov looked even better. He had that “you aren’t going to beat me” feel about him early in the game, and I was sure that Johan Franzen flub on the open net was going to come back to haunt us. Thankfully, it didn’t, but while we’re on the subject of Johan Franzen, what the hell happened? Wasn’t he like uber-playoff guy? As far as I’m concerned, all that means is that he’s due for a massive round of post-season hockey. Watch out, Evgeni.
Anyone who comes around here knows that I’ve already admitted I was wrong about J.T. Howard IV. But homeboy lets in some of the weakest goals in recent Red Wings goaltending history. At least act like you’re paying goddamn attention during the faceoff. Admittedly, I didn’t see the goal either because I wasn’t watching the faceoff. But I’m not getting paid 750k to watch the motherfrakking faceoff. I promise, Detroit Red Wings, if you want to pay me a bill to watch the faceoffs, I’ll be able to tell you what color each person on the other team’s laces are. Nevertheless, congratulations on a first series victory. That’s gotta be a good feeling for a guy playing a position that is notoriously picked on by fans, and a situation under which you’re totally expected to deliver this outcome. Those aren’t easy parameters to play under, but Tiberius officially has as many playoff series victories as Bryzgalov…or Tim Thomas. Your (likely) two last Vezina winners.
I’ve said it in this space before, but the Wings are a team that personifies the “killing a five on three and turning it into a goal.” This time, it was Brad Stuart (!) coming out of the box, nearly #Eavesing himself, and burying a quasi-breakaway with five seconds left in the second period. I’ll always believe that the team killing a big penalty will benefit greater than a team scoring on one, and for the second time this post-season, it was a million percent true.
Nice to see Todd Bertuzzi get on the scoreboard. It’d only been — what — six months? Actually, it had been one goal in fifteen games. What I know for sure: he sure as hell didn’t hit twenty this season. Including the post-season. All jokes aside, that “SecONEd L1ne” is fantastic. Simply fantastic. Valtteri Filppula has found his place – and it’s along side Hank Zunderful. And, despite my feelings on Flirtuzzi, he complements what the more skilled players do. Along the same lines, pulling Cleary off of that top line was a wise choice, as Homer being reunited with original top-liners Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk created some magic. Perhaps it wasn’t Homer’s doing, but they did net a pair and that isn’t ain’t not bad, no sir.
So what’s protocol on facial hair that isn’t beards? Like… I’m Italian, so I have a mean unibrow if I don’t pluck that shit. Is that allowed or am I going all Bert-from-Sesame-Street until we’re all done? Further, are haircuts allowed? I’ll be uploading a progress photo on Beard-a-Thon this week, as promised. I’m currently sitting in fifth, and I’m fortunate to work in an industry that honestly doesn’t frown upon any sort of appearance oddities.
Finally, a note about Nicklas Lidstrom. He may not have gotten nominated for the Norris for the forty third consecutive year, but I dare you to tell me there’s a better defenseman on the planet. You can’t do it. Yeah, it’s totally chic to talk about how he’s lost a step or how he’s not what he used to be. But 40% Lidstrom is better than 100% Almost Anyone Else, and he sure as hell ain’t 40%. He’s forty today (happy birthday, Captain), and his two goals in Game 7 were prime examples of what a leader does when there’s a big game to be played. Good on him for shutting everyone up.
And now we’re going going… back to back… to Cali Cali.
When the limelight hits ya, lyrics just split ya head so hard thatcha hat can’t fit ya.