It's getting harder and harder to make an objective blog post. With every game the Red Wings win, it's harder to sit down and type up a post about what was good, what was bad, how the game went, who scored and when and how.
Part of it is because this far along, you watch the game like I did, in a room full of your best friends, biting your nails and rocking back and forth holding your breath when it's tied 1-1 heading into the third and you know, you know, the next goal takes the game. Or when the boys are up 2-1 and suddenly all those obstruction arguments Therrien's been giving have gotten the Penguins a 5 on 3 that could turn the entire game around if the Wings make just one little mistake. Part of it is sheer pride and part of it is because as a hockey fan you can't help but shiver when you think of any team, especially your own, hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. Just one win left. Looking at that image on the Wings' website right now is with that one lowly little number still clinging to life at the far bottom bottom right gives me chills. One more game.
Last night the Penguins lost at home for the first time in, as we've been reminded approximately four thousand times between CBC and NBC, three months. There was some concern when Tomas Holmstrom sat out, but Darren McCarty took his place and the Wings persevered. Personally I'm glad he got to play a Finals game, to basically complete the story of his comeback - I bet he never thought it'd get this far.
The game was incredibly tight, tense, and spectacular. Marian Hossa scored first for the Penguins giving the collective Wings fan base a coronary, but captain Nick Lidstrom netted the tying goal at 7:06 in the first to even things back out and calm us all down enough to resume drinking our beer, at least for a little while. The second period was uneventful and scary even - so you knew the third was going to be a serious stress test. Luckily for Wings fans, Brad Stuart was able to slide a puck to Jiri Hudler who, despite saying he wasn't expecting the puck at all and "barely knew where the net was," deposited it behind Fleury, top shelf gloveside with a nice little backhanded flip - ironically a sort of improvised version of his favorite shootout move. It was great to see him get the gamewinner and I sort of adopted him as my Wings rookie last season and he hit some rough patches this year.
The one goal lead was hardly enough to quell the stress, and the rest of the period was almost painful to watch, though the Wings performed marvelously. Just when the feeling was starting to set in that the Wings would be okay, the unthinkable happened - Kirk Maltby went to the box for hooking and Andreas Lilja was called for a questionable instance of interference only moments later leaving the Wings forced to defend a 5 on 3 for an incredible amount of time. Fortunately the Wings performed exactly the way a Stanley Cup winning team should be expected to, and the group of Henrik Zetterberg, Nick Lidstrom, and Niklas Kronwall shut the Penguins' best opportunity of the night despite their monumental effort - Lilja should be thanking god, because despite his very solid play all night long, a game tying goal on a call on him would have sent him once again to Wings fans' doghouses. Zetterberg in particular tied up Sidney Crosby's stick and made an amazing maneuver with his skate to save what would almost inevitably been the tying goal. When asked if that sequence was the best he'd played in his life, Zetterberg answered, "What part?"
Crosby, however, was less impressed:
“He made a good play on me; he got my stick,” Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t think he did anything out of the ordinary besides what any other guy would do on a 5-on-3.”Zetterberg's response?
"I don't know. I couldn't hear him. I think he was a little frustrated."Beautiful, Hank. Sounds like Crosby's inexperience is surfacing - but you can only imagine the level of frustration the Penguins are facing right now. Zetterberg, on the other hand, may have just won himself the Selke in one quick move - and Pittsburgh failed to take even one shot during the duration of the two man advantage.
Game 5, Monday night, 8:00 PM, gives the Red Wings a chance to win the Cup at home in Detroit. The Penguins are a determined team who refuse to give up, and with that in mind may generate entirely different results than their past two visits to the Joe - but Wings fans have no reason to be anything but optimistic that soon the city will be able to celebrate the way they haven't since 2002. I want to see Nick Lidstrom be the first European captain to lift the Cup. I want to go downtown and see the parade that I missed six years ago when I was only fifteen and couldn't quite understand the way I do now just what it feels like to come this far. Monday. One more game. Don't kill me, Elly.