Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Musical Interlude

Okay, it's not music, per se. I lied. In that regard. But, this is the leader (for now)of a national (for now) political party speaking on the topic of health care reform--one of the most important issues of the day. What is said makes it post-worthy. Totally. And by the way Mr. Steele, or, if you prefer, dipshit, the reason people don't have "access" to health care is because of the "cost" of health care. I know I'm not supposed to take the Lord's name in vain, but Jesus H. Christ...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude

Just a guess, but I suspect Mr. Welk and his gang might not have understood the concept of teabagging, either.  My favorite part is the intro, wherein it is quite apparent that the host just finished off a great big hit off his great big bong… (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  The coughing, the eyes like slits, I’ve seen it all before.  From both sides of the eyeball.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Live-Blogging Game 7

Game on….

The Wings come out taking it to Pittsburgh.  Like you’d expect in a Game 7. There’s good energy and a lot of hitting early.  Dan Cleary gets the first big scoring chance but he’s in too deep to beat Marc-Andre Fleury. 

This is the first Game 7 in Detroit in a Cup Final since April 14, 1955.  The Wings won that night 3-1 over Montreal and the season was over.  April 14.

The playoffs didn’t even begin for Detroit this season until April 16.

Gordie Howe scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in that 1955 game against Montreal.  It came with :11 left in the second period.

Here’s the list of Red Wings who have scored a Stanley Cup-winning goal:

2008 Henrik Zetterberg

2002 Brendan Shanahan

1998 Martin Lapointe

1997 Darren McCarty

1955 Gordie Howe

1954 Tony Leswick (OT)

1952 Metro Prystai

1950 Pete Babando (2OT)

1943 Joe Carveth

1937 Marty Barry

1936 Pete Kelly

I’m not going to lie to you.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of those last two guys and I like to think I know a thing or two about the history of the Detroit Red Wings. 

A little under six left in the first and the Red Wings have staved off the first Pittsburgh power play of Game 7.  The overall play seems a bit more even now. 

Entering this year’s playoffs, two of the top 5 scorers for Detroit all-time in the Stanley Cup Final were named Howe: Gordie (#1, 50 points) and Syd (#5, 20 points).

Entering this season, Pittsburgh’s all-time scoring leader in the Final had 19 points.  Some guy named Mario Lemieux.

Valtteri Filppula has a great chance but Fleury comes up with a Johnny Bower poke check.  Ever hear of Johnny Bower?  He beat Detroit the last time Detroit played in a Game 7 in the Final. 1964.  Shut ‘em out, too.  4-0.  First ever shutout in a Final Game 7.  Bower’s record lasted for a year.  In 1965, Montreal blanked Chicago in Game 7 in the first Final since 1955—Detroit’s 7-game win over Canadiens, remember?—in which the home team won every game. The home team has won every game (so far) in this series.  I think Gump Worsley was the goalie the night for Montreal, but I can’t sure because Charlie Hodge also appeared in goal for the Habs in that Final.  But if I had to bet, I’d say it was Gump.  Great name, Gump;  don’t you think?

The first is over.  No score.  Good period.  Pittsburgh came on in the middle of the period but Detroit had some great chances at the end. 

1:13 into the second and the Pens go up 1-0.   Maxime Talbot got the goal when Brad Stewart’s clearing attempt hit the skate of Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and caromed right to Talbot in front.  Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall sort of waved at Talbot with his stick and Talbot was able to make a play and beat Chris Osgood under his right leg. 

Johan Franzen takes Sidney Crosby out of the game with a clean check in the neutral zone.  Who knows how long he’ll be out, but he’s gone to the dressing room.  Detroit’s on the power play for the first time, too. 

10:07 into the second and its 2-0.  Talbot again, this time polishing off a two-on-one after the Penguins should have been called for Interference but weren’t.  How can Detroit get caught on an odd-man rush in their own building in Game 7?  Talbot beat Osgood glove side high from well inside the rim of the left circle.  The color man on CBC says, “Osgood lost his net.”  That is, he forgot where the net was relative to his position on the ice.  I play goal so I know its easy to do what with the net being behind you and all.  I’ve “lost my net” plenty of times.  But never in a Game 7.  Then again, I’ve never been in a Game 7, actually. 

Maxime Talbot is bidding to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal scorer this year.  Here’s the all-time list of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup-winning goal scorers:

1992 Ron Francis

1991 Ulf Samuelsson

2-0 Pittsburgh after two.  Detroit missed some great chances late, again.  Pens are 10-0 when leading after 2 in the playoffs this year.  Detroit is 0-5 when trailing after 2. This is trouble for the Red Wings, with a capital “T” and that’s what Talbot starts with.

Almost halfway through the third period and still its 2-0, Pittsburgh.  Detroit has outscored opponents 20-9 in the 3rd period in the playoffs this season, but tonight they can’t get in deep against the Penguins.  They’ve outscored opponents 75-48 overall in the postseason and it doesn’t look they are going to win the Cup.  Crosby’s back—his first shift since he got hurt mid-way through the second period comes almost ten minutes into the third. 

Fleury is trying to become the 4th goalie to throw a Game 7 shutout in the Final.  In addition to those we mentioned earlier, Martin Brodeur shut out Anaheim in Game 7 in 2003.  The Ducks coach in 2003?  Current Wings coach Mike Babcock. 

Under 8 to go and Pittsburgh still doesn’t have a shot on goal in the period.  Detroit has only 4.

Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1.  Jonathan Ericsson at 13:53 on a lob-in kind of shot from the right point.  Might have knuckleballed on Fluery, might have been deflected.  But, it’s in the net and the Wings are back in this thing.

5:00 to go and everybody in the place is standing.  Both teams look a little tired.  They should be. 

3:23 left and its time for a commercial.  What tension.  The waiting is the hardest part. 

The PA guy at the Joe just said, “You can get louder than that, hockey fans.”  Really, three minutes left in Game 7 and Game Operations think you have to fire up the fans?  How stupid is that? 

2:10 left.  Kronwall hits the post!  He hit the damn post!  OMG.  That might be it, right there.  Replay shows it was the crossbar he hit, not the post.  This does not make it feel any better. 

1:17 left.  Time Out.  Faceoff in the Pens zone and Osgood is out. 

“Last Minute of Play in This Period…”

Wings offside with 32 seconds left.  Osgood has to go back in.  Wings shoot it in…and its in the crowd with :16 left.  Faceoff outside the line.  Situation desperate. 

Lidstrom gets a chance at the buzzer—a lot of net if he could get it high, but he can’t and Fleury dives across and makes one more amazing save and that’s it.  The Penguins win the Cup.  Heartache in Detroit.  Bud Lynch comes back to the PA mike (he makes only an occasional appearance there these days as he’s 90 years old) and tells the fans to “stand by for the presentation of the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins.”  That says it all, doesn’t it?  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Brief History of Game 7

It’s been 52 years since any winner-take-all game was played here in Detroit by a Detroit team.  It was the 1957 NFL Championship game and the legendary Tex Maule wrote the following about it in Sports Illustrated:  “The seams of Briggs Stadium in Detroit were near to bursting with the 55,263 people who were willing to pay up to $10 apiece to watch their home-town Lions play the Cleveland Browns for the national professional football championship.”

$10 dollars apiece, you say?  I have a friend who was hoping to score a pair in the Lower Bowl for big Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight and his ticket broker told him, “No problem.  That will be NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.”  I told my friend, “I understand that watching Hi-Def TV is just like being there.”

Well, no matter where we are sitting, let’s look at Game 7’s in the Stanley Cup Final.

(Note to the broadcasters on radio and TV: It’s The Stanley Cup Final. The Finals are played in the NBA.  This is the reason you see the words “Stanley Cup Final” painted on the ice in ten-foot letters. Twice. Inside each blue line.  It’s the name of the event, you see.)  Ahem. 

With respect to The Stanley Cup Final, this is the seventh 7th game in the history of the Detroit Red Wings.  It’s surprising, but since the National Hockey League made the Final a best-of-seven series in 1939—some 70 years ago now that we think of it—only 14 Final series’ have gone the limit.  What’s more, five of them (including the present series) have come in the first 9 years of the current century.  Indeed, the NHL went nearly a quarter of a century (between 1971-94 non-inclusive) with only one 7-game Stanley Cup Final. 

1971 is important.  It’s the last time a road team won a Game 7.  It was the year the Blackhawks led rookie goalie Ken Dryden and the Canadiens 2-0 at the Chicago Stadium in Game 7 only to have Henri Richard—the same Henri Richard who scored the controversial Cup-winning goal at the Olympia against Detroit in Game 6 of the 1966 Final—score both the game-tying and game-winning goals for Montreal.  Since that game the home team has won Game 7 six straight times.

Now, at one time or another, we’ve told you each of the following during the Detroit-Pittsburgh series.  (Each scenario reflects the standing of the Red Wings in the current Final series):

• Teams winning Game One have won the Cup 54 of 69 times (78.3%).
• Teams winning both Games One and Two have won the Cup
41 of 44 times (93.2%).
• Teams holding a 2-1 series lead have won the Cup 38 of 44 times
• Teams winning Game Five after splitting the first four games have
won the Cup 14 of 19 times (73.7%).
• Teams holding a 3-2 series lead have won the Cup 26 of 32 times

(Source: 2009 NHL Total Stanley Cup)

Now, let’s add one:

  • Teams tied 3-3 in the series have won the Cup 7 of 14 times (50.0%).

However, we can also say this:

  • Teams playing at home tied 3-3 in the series have won the Cup 12 of 14 times (85.7%).

Let’s give you a few more facts. 

  • No team has played in more Game 7’s in the Final than Detroit (6).  Montreal is second with 4.
  • Detroit is 3-3 all-time in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
  • The only team to defeat Detroit in a Game 7 is Toronto.  The Leafs beat Detroit in Game 7 in 1942, ‘45 and ‘64.  (All 3 of those series are remarkable.  In 1942, Detroit led the series 3-0 and dropped four in a row, the first and only time that’s happened in a Final.  Johnny Mowers gave up 25 goals, still the record for most goals allowed by a netminder in a Final series.  In 1945, Toronto became the first team—and other than those ‘71 Canadiens, the only team—to win a Cup Final Game 7 on the road, beating Detroit at Olympia Stadium 2-1.  Toronto’s Frank McCool shut out the Red Wings in the first 3 games that year but Detroit came back to win the next 3.  Toronto won Game 7, 2-1, in a series in which McCool and Detroit’s Harry Lumley, both rookie goalies, allowed only 9 goals each.  Really.  7 games and both goalies only gave up 9.  In 1964 Maple Leafs defenseman Bobby Baun was famously carted off on a stretcher at the Olympia late in Game 6, only to come back and even more famously score the overtime winner to force Game 7 in Toronto—a game won by the Leafs 4-0 in the first-ever shutout in hockey’s ultimate game).
  • Detroit played in the first 6 Game 7’s in the history of the Final: 1942, ‘45, ‘50, ‘54 ‘55 and ‘64. 
  • Other than those losses to Toronto, Detroit went the full 7 against the Rangers in 1950 and Montreal in 1954 and 1955.  They won all 3.
  • This is the first Game 7 in Detroit since April 14, 1955—a 3-1 Cup-winning win over the Canadiens.
  • The only 2 Game 7’s to go into overtime were played in Detroit and won by Detroit.  Pete Babando scored in double overtime (28:31 of OT to be exact) to beat the Rangers in the 1950 Final.  In 1954, Tony Leswick lobbed the puck into the Montreal zone and headed off for a change.  He never saw Montreal’s Doug Harvey—the best defenseman in NHL history not named Bobby Orr—reach up to bat the puck away and instead deflect it past his perplexed goaltender Jacques Plante at 4:29 to give the Leswick the goal and the WIngs a 2-1 win and the Stanley Cup.

And that’s all I have for you.  I tell you one thing I don’t have.  $9,000 for a couple of hockey tickets.  I think it will look just fine on TV.  Oh, I forgot.  That 1957 NFL Championship game in Detroit that fans were willing to fork over as much as $10 to see?  It was blacked out locally.  So, no complaining tonight, especially if you’ve got hi-def.

Thursday Musical Interlude

It’s just a rainy, crummy day here in I’ve decided that a musical interlude is in order.  While Mr. von Ebers is away, I'm gonna dig in and take some cuts.  As you know, he’d always have a (more often than not) poignant story to go along with his song selection.  Not me.  This is just some pop crap from ELO I’ve liked since the day I first heard it back in the dorm and I can—and do—thank my pal Peter Anik for turning me on to it.  Now, if he can just tell me the name of that Doc Severinson song I liked so well so long ago….

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live-Blogging Game 6

We’ll get to the game in a moment but here’s a quick story:  I played hockey today for the first time in 9 weeks and 4 days—not that I’d been counting—and afterwards I said to my doctor who’d been out there with me that I thought I was a bit rusty and that I had a ways to go.  He said, “Still, not bad for a guy who had congestive heart failure last Friday.”  I had to agree.  I had a problem crop up last Friday which involved by inability to breathe.  When I called him I believe I said, “I…can’t…get…any…air.”  He told me to come right over.  It turns out my lungs were filling with fluid.  The solution was elegant and simple.  He gave me a pill that made me pee like a guy 14 beer into a 24-beer bender for a couple of days, and now I’m all better, thank you.  It was, all in all, a bit disconcerting, though.


Game on…


Everybody is boycotting NBC here in Detroit because they wouldn’t let the Wings show the game on the scoreboard at the Joe.  I wasn’t going to watch it on NBC, anyway.  The NBC announcer, is as nice a guy as you will ever meet, but I find him unlistenable.  I can’t stand his call.  Sorry.  Just a matter of taste.  Some guys you like, and some guys you don’t.


All I know is that if the Chris Osgood doesn’t give up any goals tonight like he did Saturday(or didn’t depending on how you look at it), Detroit wins the Stanley Cup tonight.  It’s not like he’s never done it before.  Osgood shut out the Penguins back-to-back in Games 1-2 of last year’s Final. 

I expected Pittsburgh to dominate early—they outshot Detroit 3-0 to open Game 5, remember?—but I did not expect them to dominate the entire first period, which they did.  The Pens were outshooting the Wings 11-2 late in the period (shots finished 12-3 in the first), but at the horn or buzzer or gunshot or whatever they fire off in Pittsburgh to denote the end of a period, the score was 0-0.  Like I said, if Osgood doesn’t give up any goals, Pittsburgh doesn’t win. 

I spent a lot of the period looking for other back-to-back shutouts in the Final by Detroit goalies: 

Terry Sawchuk did in in ‘52, the year he held Canadien to 2 measly goals.  In the series.  A Detroit sweep in four, pretty much needless to say. 

Harry Lumley did it in ‘45—but Detroit lost the series in 7 largely because Toronto’s Frank McCool had shut the Wings out in each of the first three games to give the Leafs an insurmountable series lead.  Detroit won game 4 before Lumley took over with his back-to-back shutouts in Games 5 and 6, the second of which went to overtime tied 0-0, meaning that for the 4th time in the series, McCool had held Detroit scoreless through 60 minutes.  Lumley wound up with a goals-against in the Final of 1.24, and he was the losing goalie.  McCool, the winning goalie, also had a goals-against of 1.24 in the Final.  I think this had to be, like, the best Final, ever.

Johnny Mowers did it in ‘43, blanking Boston back-to-back at the Boston Garden to complete Detroit’s four-game sweep of the Bruins.  Mowers allowed 5 goals in the series for a goals-against of 1.25.  Not as good as Lumley, but good enough to win Detroit’s 3rd-ever Stanley Cup.

Rats.  So much for my Osgood shutout theory.  :51 into the second period, Jordan Staal scored on Pittsburgh’s 14th shot of the night.  1-0, Penguins.  The Wings got caught on an odd-man rush when #51 Valtteri Filppula failed to hold the puck at the Penguins line and #52 Jonathan Ericsson went down to block and pass that never came and was out of the play when Staal banged in his own rebound.  Osgood got a piece of it with his glove. 

Maybe it’s the last change thing or having to stay on the ice after in icing whistle, but Pittsburgh looks faster at home.  And they go stronger to the net. 

Henrik Zetterberg goes strong to the net and hits the post with 2:00 left in the period.  I wonder if its time to check the record of home teams in Game 7 of the Final.

Periods over.  Shots are 24-12 Pittsburgh (12-9 Pens in the 2nd)  and its still 1-0, Pittsburgh.  A great game.  What hitting and what goaltending!

In the Dept. of “If It Comes To That”, according to the Official Game Notes, Detroit is 3-3 all-time in Game 7’s in the Final.  I’m pretty sure no team has lost a Game 7 at home since Montreal came back from 2-0 down to beat the Blackhawks at the Chicago Stadium in ‘71, but I’m going to have to check that one out. 

2-0, now.  Pens scored 5-and-a-half into the third on a sort-of wraparound by Tyler Kennedy.  Nicklas Lidstrom had his stick held in the right corner and couldn’t get it out as a result and nobody picked up Kennedy who came out from behind the net to the side of the net to beat Osgood high.  Ozzie usually gets that one, I think.  Now that we see the replay, Osgood did get it.  The first one, that is.  Kennedy scored on his own rebound.  Somebody should have knocked him on his you-know-what first.  Darren Helm was closest but didn’t lay a glove on him.  This is real trouble now.

2-1, now.  Detroit is finally on the board as Kris Draper fires a rebound high into the net for his fist goal of the playoffs and what a time for him to get it.  I know I said Draper should have been sat prior to Game 5, but I will say now that I was wrong.  That was a veteran’s goal.  He waited and picked his spot and he buried it. 

9:18 into the 3rd and the Red Wings get their first power play of the game.  Talk about, “Its about time.”  Detroit was 3/9 in Game 5 after going 1/10 in the first 4 games.  This game has been played almost entirely 5-5.  The Pens have had only 2 power play opportunities. 

Ohhhh.  The puck was loose in the crease with 3 Wings nearby but none could reach it and poke it home.  One minute left in the power play…

The Penguins kill it but Bill Guerin gets loose with his stick and smacks Draper in the face with it, so back on the power play goes Detroit.  About 7 minutes to go.  Still 2-1, Penguins. 

No luck on the pp, and Osgood makes an unreal stop on Kris Letang to keep Detroit in the game. 

They show somebody polishing the Stanley Cup, but with 3:30 to go you have to wonder if its not going to be going back into its crate tonight. 

Dan Cleary breakaway with 100 seconds to go!  He’s in cold and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped him; glove save as Cleary went with the backhand deke and Fleury never gave him a chance.

13.2 seconds to go and the Wings come so close.  Johan Franzen has an open net but Rob Scuderi, Pittsburgh defenseman, makes a kick save and a beauty in the crease with his goalie out of position and guess what?  We are coming home to Detroit for Game 7.  Put that Cup back in the box and we’ll see you Friday night.  Wow.  Another great game.  Need I mention that the home team has won every game in this Stanley Cup Final?  I suppose you already know that.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Live-Blogging Game 5

It’s a big game tonight, Game 5 of the Final; all tied up at two wins apiece.  We’re going to live-blog this one for you! 

Except that we’re already a little behind: watching it on the DVD, you see.  Which is the only way to go if you ask me.  We’ll blow through the commercials and the intermissions, except, since we are watching the CBC Broadcast, “Hockey Night in Canada”, we’ll stick around for “Coaches Corner with Don Cherry” after the first period.  They just played the HNIC theme which is different this year.  The old theme, perhaps the most famous tune in Canadian history, was stolen over the summer by some cheesy cable outfit which outbid the CBC for the rights.  The bidding, as I recall, went to a million dollars before the CBC—which is owned by the Canadian government, apparently—pulled out.  The new open is nice, though.  A lot of computer-generated stuff with Orr and Howe and Gretzky and old announcers and bagpipes.  We’ve skipped right through to the opening face-off.  I’m not big on the pregame garbage and nobody throws more pregame garbage at you than the people at the Joe Louis Arena.  Tonight they had the usual: a bunch of people skating around with big Red Wings flags and fireworks and an inflatable purple octopus. Whatever.  On to the game…

20:00 (Time remaining in period) I see Dennis Larue is one of the refs.  He’s an interesting guy.  I sat next to him at a playoff game about 15 years ago and we chatted the whole night.  Plus, he officiated plenty of games when I was broadcasting in the minors.  I think he has an Ivy League degree, but I can’t remember.  They’re about to put the lineups on the screen.  I think Draper has to sit and I think Maltby has to sit.  Wow.  They are both playing.  I would have gone with that kid who scored in each of the first two games Justin Abdelkader.  Pavel Datsyuk is back.  Finally.  But as he makes his debut in the Final, the question is: Is he 100%?


17:26 Great save by Osgood and Evgeni Malkin just missed as the Pens just missed, barely, twice. 

15:49 CBC announcer (for the first time in maybe 30 years it’s not Bob Cole calling the Final) just said it’s rare to see Detroit getting out played in their own building.  Shots: Pittsburgh 3, Detroit 0.

13:00 Cleary just had Detroit’s best chance, a semi-wraparound, then got stopped on his own rebound, too.  Niklas Kronwall’s slapper got tipped and somehow Marc-Andre Fleury reacted and made a glove save.  How’d he get to that?  They’re calling Kronwall for tripping?  Gee, what a bad call.  He low-bridged him in the neutral zone.  I think it was my buddy Larue making the call, too.   They just showed a replay of Fleury’s save on Kronwall.  It looked better live.  I thought he gloved it but it glanced off his left pad which he just happened to have on the ice—just like any competent goalie would.

12:41 A Pittsburgh power play.  They’ve been killing Detroit on the PP: 4/9, 44.4% in the series.  You can’t win with numbers like that.  Total goals in the series is tied, by the way.  10-10.  Somebody almost scored for Detroit from inside the Wings line.  A clear and it took a funny hop and Fleury, headed behind his net to stop it, had to dive back out in front to deflect it.  Probably would have gone wide, anyway.  Probably…

10:39 Detroit killed it with 0 Pittsburgh shots.  Datsyuk missed Henrik Zetterberg with what looked like an easy-to-complete pass.  Is he rusty?  

8:54 Johan Franzen just walked out in front with a backhand and Fleury again makes a pad save.  Might have been Detroit’s best chance so far.  I don’t like that Bill Guerin is on the Pens.  He was with the Devils in the ‘95 sweep of Detroit.  This bothers me for some reason.  Plus, they got him at the trade deadline.  It bothers me.  I don’t know why.  They just put up a “Hockey Night Bio” of Jordan Staal.  It says he wants to meet Bobby Orr.  Hey, I’ve met Bobby Orr.  He could not have been nicer.  What a thrill.  Oddly, it was in Pittsburgh, no less: in a coffee shop of a hotel across the street from “The Igloo” the day of the NHL Draft in ‘97.  I’ve been to Bobby Orr’s hockey rink up there in his hometown in northern Ontario, too.  But, that’s another story for another time.  I’ll remember the name of the town, too.  I must be getting old if I can’t remember Bobby Orr’s hometown.  Jeez.  Now I’m forgetting the names of places I’ve actually been.

(time unknown)  THEY SCORED.  FLEURY GAVE UP A WEAK ONE!  A SHOT FROM WAY OUT THAT HE SHOULD HAVE HAD!  Let’s wait for the replays…

It’s Dan Cleary on a little pass from Datsyuk.  He was closer than I thought on first viewing, just a little inside the rim of the right circle (to Fleury’s left) but it wasn’t much of a shot. Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik screened his goalie and when the shot went through Orpik’s legs, Fleury could not react in time.  It looked like a nothing play.  I always tell my defensemen when I’m in goal, “I don’t care if you stand there, just make sure you block the shot.”  Orpik didn’t, Fleury couldn’t see it…1-0 Det.  I give up goals just like that all the time, and all the time it’s because one of my own guys has blocked my view.  Time, 13:32.  1st point of the series for Cleary and Datsyuk. 

4:25 I should check the Tigers score but I’m ah-scared to.  They’ve lost 4 straight and 6 out of 8, at least.  Oh, what the heck.  Ha, commercial break.  Back to hockey.  I checked on the web.  Tigers, 2, Angels 1.  Final.  They’d lost 9 of 13 since that 7-game win streak that put them in first place.

:21  Chris Kunitz, another guy the Pens got at the trade deadline and another guy with a Cup (with Anaheim the year the Ducks upset the Wings in the playoffs), goes off for running Chris Osgood.  Detroit PP, their first of the night. 

:00  1-0, Detroit.  Did I mention I’ve played golf with Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma?  It’s true.  He from Grand Haven right on the Lake Michigan shore and I met him for the first time when he played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International League.  His dad wrote a book: “So You Want Your Son to Play in the NHL.”  I used to play a lot of golf with the guys on the hockey team in Grand Rapids and Bylsma would be there from time to time.  Good guy, I hate to say.

1st Intermission:  Don Cherry’s yelling at the defensemen to stop screening the goalies.  It’s becoming a nightly ritual.  But, as I say, he’s right.  He calls Miroslav Satan, (pronounced “sah-TAN”) “Satin,” as in “The Devil”.  Cherry’s upset about no Canadian fly-over at the D-Day ceremony today in Normandy. He says, “The British couldn’t get off the beaches, the Americans couldn’t get off the beaches, we were off the beaches!  We were 15 miles into France and they told us to stop because they couldn’t get off (the beaches) and we didn’t get a fly-over.”  Budd Lynch, the Red Wings PA announcer who’s been with the organization since 1949, landed on D-Day with those Canadians.  About a week later he lost an arm when a Nazi shell went clean through his shoulder.  Budd knew Conn Smythe, the Maple Leafs owner who built Maple Leaf Gardens and after whom the playoff MVP Trophy is named.  Smythe had formed up his own battalion for the war.  Artillery.  Budd says he’d tease him about being way in the back while he, Budd, was at the front.  I’m playing in Budd’s golf outing in a couple of weeks.  Cherry goes on to say the Canadian troops were the best because back then they were all volunteers.  Budd volunteered less than two weeks after Germany invaded Poland in September, 1939.  I asked him why once and he told me, “Because, my boy.  A Canadian does his duty.”  I wonder if Don Cherry knows Budd’s story.

Second Period…

18:16  2-0!!!  Pens killed off the penalty but they left Valtteri Filppula wide open out in front and he, as they say, made no mistake.  Marian Hossa made a beauty pass from the right boards to Filppula (a name which can, apparently, be pronounced 1,000 different ways) who had snuck in behind 2 defenders.  Nice play all around.  Osgood gets a helper and he earned it.  He fired it from behind the Detroit goal up the wall to Hossa who fed Filppula.  What’s the record for assists by a goaltender in a Final?  I’ll see if I can find out. 

13:49 I haven’t found it yet…BUT IT’S 3-0 DETROIT!  A power play goal by Kronwall.  They let him walk out in front from the right corner and when you get the goalie moving laterally as he did you can score and he did.  Getting close to halfway home and it’s 3-0!

13:12 Penalty on Pittsburgh, again.  Malkin with a vicious elbow on Kronwall.  Still looking on the assist thing but I did find out who scored the most goals in a Final.  It might take you a minute to remember this one. That’s right. It’s Cyclone Taylor of the Vancouver Millionaires.  In 1918.  9 goals.  In 5 games. Replay shows the Malkin’s elbow (any relation to that creepy Michelle?) was on Franzen, not Kronwall.

11:34 Detroit makes Malkin and the Pens pay with a PPG, or, Power Play Goal.  4-0, and all Fleury can do is skate around after Brian Rafalski buries a wrist shot from the right point.  Fleury never saw it because Tomas Holmstrom was, as usual, right in front of him blocking his view. 

11:08 “How about the tired, old defending Stanley Cup champs tonight?” asks the CBC color man.  “They look pretty fresh tonight,” replies the play-by-play man.  Rink reporter says Bylsma sent a player out to ask Fleury if he wanted the rest of the night off, but Fleury wants to stay in the Pens goal.  Whatever, dude.  That’s three goals in 6:42 for Detroit.

Commercial Break.  No luck on the goalie assist thing but I did notice that my buddy Matt Pavelich holds the record for Most Games by a Linesman in the Final with 56.  Talk about great guys.  His brother’s pretty cool, too.  Marty.  Won a few Cups with Detroit in the 1950’s and you won’t meet a nicer man in hockey.

8:30 My doctor had tickets to one of the first two games in Detroit and he gave them to his sons.  What a dad!  He won’t be giving them up if there’s a game 7, I think.  He wants to see the Wings win the Cup in person.  Personally, I hope it doesn’t go 7.  Unless Detroit blows this lead, that is. 

4:50 They won’t.  5-0: another power play goal.  This one by Zetterberg and they’re going to have to get Fleury out of there.  They do.  Fleury goes straight to the room without stopping at the bench or anything.  Mathieu Garon comes in comes in and becomes the 105th goalie in history to appear in a Stanley Cup Final game.  His place in history is thus assured, as is the outcome of this one.  Detroit has won 48 straight in the postseason when they’ve scored 4 goals.  They have 5 tonight.

2:03 Detroit is on a 5-on-3 power play.  The Pens are losing it.  Sidney Crosby slashed Zetterberg out of frustration and now Maxime Talbot has slashed Datsyuk.  Hacked him on the right foot, the one which is supposed to be hurt; the reason he missed the first four games of the series.  They call it tripping.

0:00 Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 15-6 in the period.  The big number though is the fact they outscored them 4-0. 

Second Intermission.  Time for a soda, no?

Last 5 minutes…still a shutout and Pascal Dupuis just tried to take Kronwall’s head off.  He gets a minor for his trouble.  Penguins changed hotels in Detroit after losing Games 1 and 2 here.  There just aren’t that many 5-star hotels in Detroit.  Where are they going to stay if there’s a Game 7?  Motel Six, for luck (because if they come back it will mean they won Game 6, get it?). Fans are trying to start the wave.  There’s no Wave at hockey games.  A lot of fans have left.  I can’t believe that.  The Final and people are leaving?  These are people who shouldn’t be there in the first place.  Pittsburgh is doing a lot of yapping at the Detroit bench for a team that’s down 5-0.  What are they saying? “You’re next,” like the Devils did during the ‘95 Final? This ain’t that, fellows.  The Penguins take more dumb penalties and the game ends with Detroit on the power play. 5-0, Detroit and a three games to two lead in The Final.  They can wrap it up Tuesday or we are going to be right back here Friday.  All in all, a great night here in Detroit.  One for the books, really.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Around the League with Rich Kincaide

Okay, here’s my latest for  If you could go over and visit the site—specifically my column—that would be great.  I guess if they think people are reading my stuff it helps my cause.  Please note:  You do not have to actually read the story, you merely need to visit the page.  What a relief, eh?  Here’s the link:  If the link takes you to a log-in page (which it might) enter Detroit and click on any Detroit zip code, click on sports on the left side of the front page, click on hockey when you get to the sports page.  Thanks and as soon as I figure out a one-click link to my little stories I’ll pass it along.  Be well, etc!

Oh, here’s the column:

  • So, do you still think Chris Osgood is “a bum”, the “weak link” on this Detroit Red Wings team? I don’t listen to very much sports talk radio at all but I’ve listened to enough to have heard him called both those and it makes me think that for a guy whose lifetime record in the Stanley Cup Final is 10-2 with a goals-against average of 1.47, all I can say is that in a place that likes to call itself “Hockeytown,” you’d think we’d have smarter fans.
  • If it’s true—and you hear all the time that is true—that in hockey the regular season doesn’t matter, it then necessarily follows that the only hockey that does matter is playoff hockey. And if the only hockey that matters is playoff hockey, the logic can be extended to conclude that the only playoff hockey that matters is the Stanley Cup Final. So, if you judge a player by how he performs when the only hockey that matters is being played, the Stanley Cup Final, Osgood’s jersey should be just about ready for a trip to the rafters at the Joe Louis Arena, right next to Terry Sawchuk’s. Sawchuk won 3 Stanley Cups in goal for Detroit and so has Osgood. (Although, to be fair, Ozzie got his name on the Cup without appearing in the 1997 Final whereas Sawchuk played every minute of every Cup Final game played by Detroit the three years he won the Cup here: ‘52. ’54 ’55).
  • We mentioned Ozzie’s lifetime goals-against of 1.47 in the Final? Sawchuk’s GAA in the Final (Detroit only) was 2.54 and his won-loss record was 17-16. He won three Final series and lost three as a Red Wing.
  • Since Jersey swept ‘em in the 1995 Final, Detroit was won four Finals in a row (let’s not forget the Final Four was just here in town a couple of months ago, whatever that means…which is nothing now that I think of it) and the Wings are 18-3 (.857) in their last 21 Cup Final games. Two of those three losses were charged to Osgood, so I guess you could complain about that if you wanted to.
  • Prior to their current run, Detroit lost six consecutive Finals from 1956-1995, posting a record in those games of 9-24 (.273)
  • If you add up those last two stats, Detroit is 27-27 in the Final since 1956, winning four series, losing six, and leading two games to none in this one.
  • They kept saying on Hockey Night in Canada last night that teams with a 2-0 lead in the Final are 31-1, but that can’t be right. Maybe they meant 31 of the last 32 teams to go up 2-0 won the series because I can think of two instances where the team leading 2-0 did not win the Cup. Detroit led Montreal 2-0 in 1966—coming home to Olympia Stadium for the next two games no less, and lost the series in six. Detroit led Toronto 3-0 in the 1942 Final (and to lead 3-0 you must have first led 2-0) and lost the series in seven. So now I’m probably going to have to look the whole thing up and I don’t feel like it. Oh, well.
  • They also kept calling it “De-troy-IT” on the CBC which I never have been able to figure out. The Canadians are the only people who get the pronunciation wrong. Oh, wait. They’re not. You also have those people who insist on calling it “DEE-troit.” It’s duh-TROIT. Rhymes with adroit
  • Former Detroit goalie Hank Bassen, I learned on “Coaches Corner with Don Cherry” last night, died over the weekend at 76. I saw him play in my youth. Bassen is one of only 12 players ever to appear in goal in a Stanley Cup Final game for Detroit, and one of only seven to have appeared in more than one Final series for the Wings. Of the 12, Bassen was one of only three never to have won a Cup. Bassen shared netminding duties with Sawchuk in the 1961 loss to Chicago and filled in when Roger Crozier was injured in Game 4 of the 1966 Final. With his death, there are now only five men living who have ever played so much as a single minute of goal for Detroit in a Stanley Cup Final game. We’ll tell some of their stories next time.