Friday, June 12, 2009
Game 7 – Penguins Win the Cup in 2-1 Win over Detroit
Game 7 – the one all youth players, beer leaguers and the NHL’s finest all dream of at some point in their hockey careers. It doesn’t get any better than this – at the end of three periods, one team will experience the indescribable ecstasy of hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup and the other the crushing defeat of coming so close and falling short. And here we are…
Note to NBC: Please don’t let Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury do the cheesy pretend coach pep talk from each dressing room before the game starts…um, ever.
The first period was a battle for both teams and both clubs went into the locker room scoreless.
The Penguins got on the board first with a biscuit that bounced off of Geno’s skate right to Maxime Talbot’s stick – how’s that for some good karma? The resulting goal went five-hole on Wings’ net minder Chris Osgood. The Pens’ second goal was also courtesy of Max Talbot and a result of yet another flub from Wings’ d-man Brad Stuart. In the middle of the second period, Sidney Crosby was in a Mack truck of a collision with Johan Franzen and left in obvious pain for the locker room.
In their captain’s absence, the Pens stepped it up and saw great efforts by Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz, Hall Gill, Geno and the rest of the supporting cast. Hockey Mom was right behind a sharp-dressed Jordan Staal in the halls of the Phone Booth after a Caps/Pens playoff game – two words: big dude. I’d love to see all of those brothers play a spirited game of pickup during the off-season in Thunder Bay, Ontario but I digress. Back to the game! Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury had his best game of this series, stopping 23 shots.
The third period saw the return of Sid (albeit a very shaky one) as well as an early Detroit power play. Crosby was on for a brief shift and then went back to the bench in obvious discomfort. The defending champs finally got on the board after peppering Fleury’s goal for what seemed an eternity until the tally from Jonathan Ericsson lit the lamp to tighten the score 2-1. The last three minutes were action-packed as the Wings battled to stay in it and thought they had a tying goal near the two-minute mark but Kronwall’s shot pinged off the post. Ozzie evacuated the net for the extra skater at about 1 minute and change.
And much to Marian Hossa’s dismay, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions, overcoming a mid-season slump and a transition with a new coach in former AHLer, Dan Bylsma. And congrats to Geno Malkin for earning the Conn Smythe award for his contributions to this hard-fought victory.
HM had to choke back a few coughs and gags watching Sidney Crosby skate the Cup but alas, his team truly earned it. Their victorious Cup run teaches a valuable lesson to pros and house players alike, in that it’s anybody’s game til it’s OVER. Congrats to the Penguins and their fans (except for those in my family who are playoff fans only) – and to Dan Bylsma for leading his team to the pinnacle of hockey in such a short period.