May 13, 2010

2002 Conference Finals, Game 7 -- The Liveblog

This is the second installment of an indeterminable amount of Classic Liveblog posts here at TTD. The first can be viewed here.


I can't quite put into words how awesome the opening montage of this game was.

Take yourself back there for a minute. I recall the buildup throughout the day feeling all sorts of unholy, the first puck drop taking what seemed like centuries to arrive. It made your chest burn thinking about who would get on the board first. The loser of this game would have effectively lost the six year war, and they would do so in the grandest of fashions. It wasn't a series-deciding Game 7 -- it was a legacy-deciding Game 7. This was Gary Thorne in that slow-mo montage:

"These are not just teams of men battling toward a common goal, but tribes, whose greatest satisfaction is defeat of their one true foe. The last line of defense, the protectors of victory are unmatched in their achievements. The greatest of their time, they duel to define who is best. The seventh game is where truth is revealed. No game between Colorado and Detroit has ever .... mattered .... more."

By Zeus' taint, I don't think I've ever felt more alive.

  • Brian Engblom's hair looks identical to what it does currently. The only fathomable explanation I can come up with is that his wife has an insatiable MacGyver fetish.
  • "Party Hard" by Andrew W.K. is playing in an NHL Cup Crazy commercial. Just hearing that song again compelled me to pick up the phone, call a random girl and hear her tell me that she doesn't want to go to Homecoming with me. But now, in 2010, I retort with, "Mwahaha! Joke's on you -- I am Tyler of Triple Deke fame! That's right. No tinted-out '95 Lumina joy riding for you. You know how many groupie sluts I have jerkin' on my home row to get at this 56 words per-minute? You know how many? 'Zero'? Okay that was a lucky guess."
  • Bill Clement mentions that Scotty Bowman used 12 different line combinations in Game 6 of this series. And this of course wasn't a panic move or reactionary -- it was strategy. Can you imagine Mike Babcock doing that? Or any coach? He was only the greatest coach in the history of team sports, I'd assume we would see this duplicated at some point.

  • 18:10 -- I found it to be really interesting: Just under a minute in, the Avs appear to ice the puck, but it's waved off for some reason and they get a scoring chance. About a minute later, Stevie Y dumps the puck in with Fedorov the only forechecker as the Wings go for a change, Roy plays the puck around the boards, and with no imminent danger at all, an Avalanche player needlessly and immediately ices the puck. At the 18:10 mark, a puck in the Avs zone gets whipped around the boards, goes for another icing. Three times they sent the puck the length of the ice, less than two minutes into the game. They played not to lose this game from the nanosecond it started. And on the next faceoff ....
  • 18:03 -- Tomas Holmstrom scores the greatest tip in goal I have ever seen. On a point shot from Steve Deuchene, Homer goes to the front of the net and begins to fall as he's battling for position. The only part of his body or equipment that is touching the ice at the point of deflection is his stick, and he tips it in. 1-0 Red Wings.
  • 16:43 -- Before you even considered sitting back down from celebrating the Homer goal, Sergei took one of those, "Eh, fuck it, I guess I'll shoot" shots -- and it's 2-0. Clement: "For the Avs to win this game, and get to the Stanley Cup Finals, they now have to get three by the Dominator."
  • 16:20 -- The Joe Louis crowd is beyond delirious. It's a sound of joy and disbelief unlike any that I have heard. The first chants of "PA-TRICK" rain down and the game is not even four minutes old. I've watched this game no less than 4,000 times and I still can't believe this start. I'm still waiting for the tape to auto-correct itself and show Peter Forsberg scoring his patented one-handed move while stabbing our goaltender in the back with a fork.
  • 10:20 -- Avs ice the puck for the fourth time this period. Between the the 1996 Conference Finals and this game, I was terrified of the Avalanche. Terrified of them. That all went out the window when I saw the nightmare they were living in JLA halfway through the 1st period.
  • 9:35 -- Lucky Luc scores the goal that made you start questioning if this was a scrimmage. Or a charity event. Or a fucking ruse perpetrated by the ghost of Bob Rouse's three-nutted undead grandfather. It had to be something .... there was no way that this was happening. An absolutely luscious drop pass from the Professor sets up Luc for a beautiful 5-hole finish. (And that has to be the horniest sounding sentence I've ever written.) Colorado uses their timeout. 3-0.
  • 7:09 -- Luc creates the next one all by himself: He morphs into the body of a 22 year-old Pavel Bure with 1980's Lawrence Taylor's coked-up heart rate, splits two defenders, burns around another, and puts a backhander on goal. The rebound is kicked right out in front and oh holy night of satin and rosemary babblefuck it's 4-0 Red Wings. It's 1:40 in the morning and I just high-fived a ficus plant in celebration of a game that happened eight years ago.
  • 2:56 -- It feels relevant to mention that the Wings scored four goals in this game before Colorado had even the most loosely interpreted of a scoring chance. What was supposed to be the most epically, fatally intense hockey game of all time was never even a game to begin with.

  • 16:22 -- "The Avalanche have five scoring chances." Yeahokay. The last three games, maybe.
  • 15:19 -- My long lost illegitimate cousin Boyd Devereaux out-hustles three Avs behind the Colorado net, and pounces on a nonchalant pass. He feeds a wide open Brett Hull who buries a goal for a 5-0 lead. When Boyd Devereaux is beating three members of the league's #1 defense on one play, you might be a red neck. Does that make sense? No. Neither does Adam Foote's face.
  • 13:32 -- As a promotional event for the Wings next power play, they bring a random dude out of the crowd to see if he can score on Patrick Roy. 20 seconds later, a vagabond graffiti artist named Fredrik Olausson scores to make it 6-0.
  • Now Roy is looking to the bench, his eyes screaming, "If you don't pull me now, I'm going to pull off your pubes one by one in front of your crying children." .....
  • .... And it happens. One of the most indelible images in Detroit Red Wings history: Patrick Roy skating to the bench, wholly stunned, eyes darting around and face blank, and looking almost like he's thinking 10,000 different things at once, without finding one thought or emotion to settle on. He hasn't processed what happened. It shouldn't have happened. It couldn't have happened. The alleged greatest goalie of all time had choked away Game 6 and Game 7 in the most important playoff series of his career.
  • 12:36 -- A classic shot of Mike Ilitch shrugging his shoulders in disbelief. (It would be revealed later in a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace that Ilitch's bewilderment was not over the staggering 6-goal lead, but was actually from somebody handing him the blue print to the $5 Hot 'n Ready pizza campaign.)
  • 2:58 -- A really cool shot of Brendan Shanahan watching game video right on the Wings bench. You think Versus would have caught this? Fuck no. In fact, they would've missed it while showing Lindsey Soto interviewing Bob Hartley.
Soto: "Bob, you're down 6-0 with a period to go on the road against Dominik Hasek and one of the greatest teams of all time. How do you get back in this game?"

Hartley: "I want to punch gonorrhea into you."

  • 0:50 -- "WE WANT ROY! ..... WE WANT ROY! .... WE WANT ROY!"

  • 19:20 -- Wow, remember those 1-800-COLLECT commercials? Suddenly this game feels 30 years old, and that makes me want to drink things.
  • 17:00 -- I have to also ask: remember Barry Melrose's frightening-as-all-fuck cackle? He used to do that at the most mundane of jokes. Even things that can't even be classified as jokes. ("One thing's for sure Barry, Carolina can't like what they see--" "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" ....) Nowadays he seems a lot more sedated. It's about time we questioned if his mullet has actually sucked out his brain and placed it in Stan Fischler's head.
  • 13:50 -- What a huge save by Aebischer! A star is born! They're right back in this thing!
  • 11:50 -- The Avs go to a power play. I don't want to jinx anything, but if they can manage a touchdown here, we've got ourselves a ballgame.
  • 8:30 -- "Na-na-NA, NA ....... HEY HEY HEY ........ GOOD BYE ...." I've always wanted to be at a sporting event where I could partake in this chant. The closest to this sort of celebration that I've come is throwing unborn goat fetus at an Ohio State fan for saying hello to me at a football game. He really didn't deserve that, but what -- I'm going to just HOLD ON to unborn goat fetus at a Michigan State game? They would've expelled me for something like that. I was just following Spartan code of conduct.
  • 7:10 -- Chris Drury scores for Colorado, but appears to have kicked it in. They review it. The goal is waved off. Hmmph -- so that's what that feels like.
  • 3:51 -- The Red Wings power play at the peek of their powers: "Hoosiers"-level passing, tic-tac-toe over to Pavel Datsyuk for a one-timer goal. The extra point .... 7-0 Wings.

"Sweet Caroline" plays over the JLA loud speakers, the crowd rises to their feet and the final minutes of this series are played before a standing ovation. They've been singing and chanting the entire period. What I would have given to see this game live. It looked like so much.... fun. Fun? Game 7's aren't supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be bone-crushing in intensity and make you wish that you lacked the "hockey loving" gene.

This game was anything but that. It was great. It was certainly anything but ordinary, and given the buildup, the circumstances and the rivalry, something that we'll never see again in our lifetimes.


Sullyosis said...

"Something we'll never see again in our lifetimes."

...and then Phoenippegg happens...

No, jk, that wasn't even a rivalry. I remember everything about this series and this game. This series got between me and my family. This series was watched in apartments and hotels as my father switched jobs into a new, shitty mining town. This game was horrifying until Fedorov blasted a puck through Roy's mit. I even remember what I had to eat that night. Parents went out to dinner and I ditched them and had 'em bring me back a steak from the steakhouse.

cmk said...

"It's 1:40 in the morning and I just high-fived a ficus plant in celebration of a game that happened eight years ago."

If I didn't love you before, this would've made me get down on my knees and bow. Not only can you write, but you ACTUALLY know what a ficus plant is! I hope Ms Deke knows what an absolute prize she has in you.

Ryan said...

I remember STILL being afraid of the Avs even when it was 4-0. I got more nervous each time we scored. As if, "To lose now? After a 4-0 lead? We'd never live it down." It wasn't until the 5th goal that I knew for sure it was completely over with.

Another thing:
Watching this game again, I notice all this hooking and holding and I think "Wow, he got away with... Oh yeah... That's right..."

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that 2002 was the year I started watching hockey at 11. This game was the one that firmly cemented me as a red wings fan for life. You brought back some great memories. Thanks.

Rob said...

I just got around to reading this now, but bravo sir. Well done. I'll keep reading these for as long as you keep live blogging games I've seen hundreds of times.

Baroque said...

My sports experience pre-internet seems so much more bland now. I knew that there were people all over the place whooping and hollering along with me in the living room, but without twitter and blogs I had no way to connect to them.

Chris said...

When do you sleep man????

Every damn post is 4:43 AM....

The only answer is that you are a Red Wings loving Cyborg that doesn't need sleep and gets everything he needs from hearing Pavel Datsyuk explain his life in broken English/Russian/Portuguese (you figure it out).

Seems sort of a waste of incredible technology, but hell, why not, I'm for it!

Primis said...

Ryan -

I constantly watch pre-lockout games and think "Geeez, we used to watch this slop?".

To be honest though, now this year the only difference is that in 2002 we saw a blatant penalty and just shrugged, knowing it was futile. Now we see it and scream "conspiracy" because the league at least claims it's calling those.

Oh to go back to the Zero Tolerance calls of the first year post-lockout. Can you imagine how many penalties the Sharks would have had called on them in the first two games?

Osrt said...

Awesome write up brosef.

That Gary Thorne opening speech sent tingles of bilious hatred down my spine, past my coccyx and to that lovely spot at the top of my sack where all the magic juice collects. I think I owe you money.

I still remember the 1996 heartbreaking loss and the moment, in game 6, when Foresberg walked around Prince Lidas and scored. I don't know if I will ever respect, fear and utterly loathe a team that much again.