Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stanley Cup Finals Game 6: Pens v Red Wings (L 2-3)


Just heartbreaking.

Nonetheless, I remain proud of our Boys of Winter. They gave us a spectacular season. While the sting of this loss will likely stay with us until Spring 2009, I know that the all the great things that this group of guys accomplished during this season will be remembered, too. We watched a young captain become a great leader. We watched a goaltender erase the question marks. We watched a man exorcise his playoff demons. We watched a man who can barely speak the language say it all in points. We watched
this group of guys open the new year with one hell of a show in the snow. We watched several of them sacrifice their bodies. We watched them overcome adversity time and time again. We watched them excel individually and as a team. We watched them defy the odds and plow through the Eastern Conference with only 2 losses. We watched them fight back from the brink and bring this series home for one more game.

We watched our Boys grow into Men.

Before the game even started, the "LET'S GO PENS!!!" chant was absolutely unbelievable. The Pens fans in attendance were so loud that Doc Emerick mentioned it. The first period began with Johan Franzen running over Marc-Andre Fleury behind the net. It was almost hard to believe that the refs didn't call goalie interference, since during Game 5 if a player even sneezed close to the net, he went to the box for it. Jordan Staal and Mad Max Talbot had an unreal shift. Niklas Kronwall turned the puck over in his own zone right in front of Ozzy, but Petr Sykora's shot was blocked by the Wings' goalie. Immediately afterwards, MAF stopped a shot by Franzen. Daryl Sydor was called for interference after Kirk Maltby embellished contact with Sydor's stick. Brian Rafalski scored after Rob Scuderi failed to clear the puck. [Pens 0, Wings 1]

Evgeni Malkin put a big hit on Dallas Drake, taking him out. Gino had a different hop in his step tonight. That assist on the game winner in Game 5 must have done wonders for his confidence. Doc, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire all commented how the building was warm and how the ice was deteriorating after the arrival of the crowd. Drake then took a running charge at Ryan Whitney and was penalized for his actions. Less than 25 seconds into the Pens' power play, Kris Draper hit Sergei Gonchar from behind and brought up his hands into Sarge's head. Thankfully, Gonch was okay. The Pens ended up with 1:33 with a 2 man advantage. This 5-on-3 was 1000% better than Game 4's 5-on-3, but the Pens unfortunately couldn't get a goal from it. They didn't score on the remaining power play, either. Adam Hall was called for a high sticking infraction, but the Wings didn't add to their tally.

The Red Wings got away with two penalties. The first came when Andreas Lilja drilled Marian Hossa, sending him tumbling to the ice, before Hossa had a chance to control the puck. The second came when Franzen got his stick up into Brooks Orpik's ear. It was about this time that I took a drink, but I'm pretty sure NBC had Orpik's stats up on the screen while the camera was fixed on Scuds. 4 != 44. (If I'm wrong and I imagined this, let me know in the comments.) The period ended with the Wings ahead by a single goal.

The second period got underway with pretty evenly matched hockey. A few minutes in, Scuds fired a long toss to Gino, who made a quick pass to Ryan Malone. Bugsy didn't get a great shot off, however, because Lilja slashed him as made his attempt. On the ensuing Pens power play, Sidney made an amazing pass to himself off the wall, but he lost his edge as he came to the corner. As he passed the puck, Brad Stuart flew in and drilled the Saint into the boards. Sid got up and appeared to be rejoining the play, but then [*GASP*] he winced in pain and went to the bench. He was shown over the next few minutes hunched over and wincing. The Pens didn't score on their advantage, and THANKFULLY Sid returned to the ice after a less than 5 minute break on the bench. Orpik stepped up on Darren Helm, and the two men collided. Helm then left the ice limping heavily.

Chaos erupted in front of Flower, but somehow the puck stayed out of the net. But a little later, Mikael Samuelsson fired a shot from the near wall. MAF stopped the shot but failed to corral the rebound. Valtteri Filppula went hard to net and capitalized on this error. [Pens 0, Wings 2]

Sid was shown talking with equipment manager Dana Heinze. McGuire told us that Siddo is concerned about the blades of his skates and is worried that they were the cause of his fall prior to the Stuart hit. Sid hit the ice and did everything but score. He won the faceoff and got a wicked centering pass out front, but Detroit shut Pittsburgh down. In Doc's words, the Pens got the puck "all around the net but not in." But something beautiful was about to happen. Pavel Datsyuk drilled Staal into the boards (no, that's not the good part, LOL). Datsyuk was promptly called for interference. Coach Michel Therrien sent out Hossa, Sid, and Gino. Hossa sent the puck to Sid. Sid sent the puck to Gino. THEN GINO FIRED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SHOT ALL NIGHT!!! [Pens 1, Wings 2]

Welcome back, Gino!!!

Gary Roberts was mucking it up behind the net, but he eventually got nailed for high sticking. Staal was a penalty killing beast. The crowd was going nuts again. Orpik and Franzen got into a fight at the whistle. Both were given coincidental roughing penalties. The Wings didn't score on their advantage. Gino was at this point a new man - it was like he had new life. As the teams were readying for a faceoff, Bugsy and Tomas Holmstrom nearly went at it. Syko fired a shot from neutral ice as the final 2 seconds of the period ticked away. Ozzy looked like he didn't expect it. Syko's shot was just barely wide and, had it been on target, would have changed stunned the entire Mellon Arena.

The third period began with the Red Wings bringing out their best defensive game. Orpik and Franzen went at it again after Orpik sent Franzen into the crossbar. Staal forced a turnover at center ice, which led to Bugsy getting a good chance, but his shot was just wide. Gino was playing like a beast. Robs drilled Rafalski. Dan Cleary made a diving play to clear the puck, but he dove into the path of Hal Gill, who was trying to keep the puck in. Cleary ended up getting kicked in the face by Gill, but Cleary soldiered through and stayed on the ice until his shift was over.

Then the unluckiest thing that ever could have happened to the Pens happened: Datsyuk fired a shot at MAF. He made the save, but the puck trickled through his 5 hole. Strangely, the puck came to a stop in the blue paint. Since Flower didn't have it frozen, the refs didn't blow their whistles. MAF fell backwards to cover the puck but instead accidentally forced the puck over the goal line. [Pens 1, Wings 3]

Flower and all of Pens Nation = S-T-U-N-N-E-D

Sid immediately went to work trying to get it back. He made a sweet pass between his own legs behind the net to Hossa out in front, but Ozzy stopped his shot. I know there was a lot of action, but suddenly there were only 4:00 minutes left in the game. The announcers told us that the Pens had only one shot on goal during the third period. This, of course, was because of the tight defensive style Detroit brought out. With only 1:47 left in the game, Jiri Hudler took a penalty for hooking Staal. Therrien wasted no time and pulled Flower in favor of the extra attacker before the power play even started. Sid won the faceoff cleanly. Bugsy stripped Lilja of his stick. It took only 20 seconds for Sarge to fire a shot that Hossa deflected to score. [Pens 2, Wings 3]

The Pens still had 1:27 to tie the game and force overtime. Flower was pulled again. With 45.8 seconds left, the Pens got a faceoff in the Wings' zone. They fought all the way to the end. Sid fired a shot that just barely missed, and Hossa was thisclose to putting it over the line. (← On the replay, it was revealed that even if Hossa's shot would have crossed the line, it wouldn't have counted because the time was 0.00.) The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.

The fans in attendance showed their allegiance as they chanted "LET'S GO PENS!!!!" as the Red Wings celebrated their win. Henrik Zetterberg was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy, to which the fans responded with a "FLEUR-Y!!!!! FLEUR-Y!!!!! FLEUR-Y!!!!!" chant.

I want to thank all of you so much for joining me this season. I had so much fun riding this wave with all of you. I really hope you all keep coming back to The Show during the summer. I don't take time off - I didn't last summer and I have no plans to take a break this summer, either - and I've got a lot of things planned that I think you'll all like. Besides, we can all be bored and count down the days until the first puck drops this fall together! :)

And now join me one last time this season in saying

GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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