June 3, 2008

The joy of hockey

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

There’s nothing in sports like a triple overtime game in the Stanley Cup finals, especially when the entire season is on the line. If every game was played with the skill and intensity as Game 5 last night, the NHL wouldn’t have the ratings problems that it has. But apparently commissioner Gary Bettman thinks that being on Versus is suiting them well – despite nobody knowing where to find it on their TV’s guide.

So how about the goaltenders last night? Chris Osgood and Marc-Andre Fleury both played very well but the story that I find most interesting isn’t Fleury standing on his head, making 55 saves – 20 in the overtimes. What stood out for me is that the four goals that Osgood allowed – in nearly 110 minutes on the ice – was a playoff high. That says something about both his and his defence core’s play through the entire playoffs, not just one game.

How do you call some of those penalties in overtime? Borderline calls shouldn’t be made in the playoffs at all by referees, much less in a potentially deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final! If the game had been decided after a silly penalty, instead of a less than stellar goal like it was, it would be the only thing you’d be hearing about today.

As for the biggest goal of the game, it wasn’t Sykora’s in the third overtime, it was Maxime Talbot’s with the Pens down one and 35 seconds to go. I’m surprised that didn’t break the Wings, but you have to give credit to their savvy veterans for playing hard and nearly taking it.

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