Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7
Penguins 2-1 Red Wings
Over two days later and the shock hasn't faded all that much. There's still a tiny part of me that thinks the NHL's zany schedule will reveal that there is still a Game 8 to play in Kosovo or something.
I'm guessing that the "moving on" process won't really start until after Free Agency begins and we start to focus in on next season. During the last two days it's been good having a lot of stuff to do, but during any down time I've had, I've only been thinking about Kronner hitting the crossbar and Lidstrom being one healthy nut away from jumping on that lose puck a little quicker. I know I can't be the only one out there who spent at least some of the weekend thinking about another man's balls.
But let's curb the nut talk for a second though. Game 7, like it or not, was the biggest game of the year, and that puddle of piss that I left on the blog Friday night isn't going to be our only acknowledgement of it. It gets the colored scoreboard treatment at the top of the post just like all of the other games. And here's some thoughts ...
- I'm pleasantly shocked that Brad Stuart isn't being completely cremated by Wings fans everywhere. Granted I've been a little shy about venturing too far into the Internet the last two days, but from what I've seen, nobody is calling for his head. I thought I'd turn on the computer and see every other comment or post devoted to how Stuart lost us the game and how he should be strapped to a rocket and sent to Jupiter. I'm glad this isn't the case. Now, this may be confusing if you were one of the people who watched the game with me, seeing as how I all but vowed to burn his house down and eat his children -- but while I was a little .... annoyed .... with his blunders in Game 7, they didn't cost us the game. The Pens only put two goals past Ozzie, and if Kris Draper and Jonathan Ericsson were the Wings' only goal scorers over the last two games, then they didn't deserve to win the Cup.
- It was a sickening feeling through most of the first two periods when the Wings were about as out-of-sync as they've ever been. They never got over that turnover bug that caused so many miscues in the defensive end. The combination of the Pens' forecheck and the Wings' neglect to support the D men at times was fatal, and essentially gave the rest of the league a blue print on how to nullify the Wings' transition game. Not that that's an easy thing to execute, of course.
- For all of the reasons that anyone wanted the Wings to win this series, I wanted it so we could (hopefully) see Ozzie win the Conn Smythe in front of the home crowd. The roar from hearing his name announced would've been legendary. Hudler would've skipped his bizzare clucking routine and probably would've started making out with him.
- Nobody needs surgery, which is good news. But still, the much anticipated injury report was extermely interesting. Raf had a herniated disk, unveiling the mystery as to why he missed time during the Anaheim series. Draper had torn neck cartilage (I can't remember if we wrote it or not, but after we went to Game 1 against the Ducks and saw Drapes take the pregame skate with a turtleneck, we speculated to each other that he had some neck issue, and not a concussion like some people thought.) Cleary played with a "significant" groin injury that would've shelved him during the regular season, and Pav had a charley horse to go with his foot injury. I also read that Z was playing at about 70%. As of right now I have yet to see anything about Hossa, which is a surprise to me.
- There are certain images -- good and bad -- as a Detroit sports fan that will stick with me forever: Sheed leaving Robert Horry open in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals; Maggs' effortless follow-through on his homer that sent the Tigers to the World Series; Z fending off Crosby at the side of the net on "The Kill"; and a few others. After this series, there's a new one to add to my brain's photo album: Niklas Kronwall.
Just look at that. 100% devastation.
Nothing else has to be said.
- I'm telling you -- we're year #1 into the Def Leppard Curse.
- I don't know what to think of Marian Hossa right now. I don't want to commit one way or another just yet, because there has to be a logical explanation for what happened to him. I want to know how a guy who doesn't appear in any post-postseason injury reports could suddenly lose his ability to drive through the neutral zone like a train and get a shot anytime he wanted one. There was almost none of that over the last month. Seriously -- how the fuck? How in the living fuck does this happen? Was it nerves? You can't honestly blame a lack of desire, right? He made an entire city hate him and risked his financial future by turning down gobs of money for a one year contract, and the reward for that was right in front of him. There has to be some sort of explanation for this. It's driving me insane.
- The Wings' tendency this game was not to drive to the net, but instead peel off to the corner and gaze back at the slot and ignore any possible rebounds. Fleury was spectacular, but the Wings helped him out by not making him uncomfortable in the slightest.
- The handshake line: I honestly care about it that much. To quote Datsyuk, I feel nothing right now. I feel empty. To conjure up any amount of disgust over a fucking post-series handshake would be a significant reach. Maybe the whole thing was a little rushed, maybe Crosby wasn't in a hurry to go through the line, and maybe I don't really give a shit.
- Wings fans booing Crosby's injury: I'm making an assumption here, so it's going to come off as rather dick-ish: You couldn't convince me in a million years that if the same thing happened to Hossa at Mellon Arena that the fans wouldn't cheer their asses off. Not in a million years. I'm not justifying it, but I find the discussion of the "classlessness" of it all to be a little tiresome.
I'm extremely proud of this team. I started this paragraph about 10 different ways, but that's all I keep coming back to. I don't know what else to add to it. I'm just amazed at how they played through all the injuries and picked each other up when they needed to. That's what's great about hockey players -- they just play through everything without making excuses. It's not just a Red Wings thing. I can't comprehend how they do it, but every year they do it, and it never stops being amazing.