Western Conference Finals, Game 5
Red Wings 2-1 Blackhawks (OT)
At 3:58 of the 4th period, Darren Helm effectively prolonged Chicago's Cup-less drought to at least year #49. He did what Slava Kozlov did in 1995 to the Hawks, in the same round, in the same game, with the same score heading into OT. Along with his shorthanded shift in the 2nd period, his Game 5 performance was borderline orgasmic.
Osgood looked elite in goal, playing one of the better games of his career. That's just a fact. Under the circumstances, with the Selke nominee and greatest defenseman of all time scratched, he played about as good of a game as he could. He was a well-placed backhander away from perfection. It should be noted that he didn't score any goals and had a bad regular season, so he still sucks ass.
Marian Hossa was physically dominant despite not scoring. He looks relatively healthy. After a particularly speedy rush from center ice to the net, the two of us wondered what a race between he and Darren Helm would look like. It's not a given that Helm is the fastest Wing. Hos looks like a bull on skates with that powerful stride and humongous ring through his nose.
Zetterberg led like a future captain, and Brett Lebda really stepped up when he was needed. Brad Stuart is sacrificing dozens of games off his career total with the effort he's giving in these playoffs. Brian Rafalski -- who at the beginning of the year we complained wasn't being responsible enough in his own end -- has more than made up for that over the last month. And get ready for this (unless you comment under the name Cmk and you already know) -- Valterri Filppula? Leading the team in assists (13), and that's four more than anybody else on the team. He's taken a definitive "leap".
It hasn't been 24 hours yet and some people are already writing off the Wings chances because of their injuries. Who knows; in two week's time, this could be correct. We're not guaranteeing anything. But for all the bitching that every one of us did during the regular season, wondering when this team would string together a slew of potential-fulfilling games, the last two games have been incredible to watch. This isn't limited to just the Wings, but the way each and every player has stepped up shows you why there is nothing better on this planet than the Stanley Cup playoffs. They could very well lose this series, but it won't be for lack of trying. The Pens are going to have to bite, kick, scratch, punch, elbow and claw away at the grip the Wings have on the Cup. We can now say with ultimate confidence that win or lose, we'll be as proud of the way this team has played as any of the four Cup-winning squads of the last 12 years.