Monday, 5 May 2008

Marathon Men

Today's blog is sponsored by Marathon convenience stores where you can buy all the energy drinks you may need, especially after that game last night between the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars. Ok, today's entry isn't really sponsored by them, but that was a fantastic playoff game last night. For a game that started at 8:04PM CDT and ended at 1:21AM CDT, it was one heckuva five-hour show. Whether you wanted to talk about scoring chances, hits, or saves, there was a little bit of everything in there. Even some old-time hockey made an appearance as the refs swallowed their whistles in overtime and let the players play.

First off, a credit to both Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov for their outstanding play last night. Both goaltenders turned in remarkable performances, including some unbelievable saves, in helping the game become the eighth-longest NHL playoff game in history. Nabokov might have made the save of the playoffs up to this point as he absolutely stole a goal from Brad Richards last night. Cue the highlight:

Highway robbery!

Brendan Morrow finally sent me to bed at the wee hours of the morning with his overtime winner, and ended San Jose's run for the Stanley Cup. Dallas has been playign excellent shut-down hockey as of late, and they'll need to continue playing hard as they'll face the President's Trophy winners in the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Final.

As you may have noticed, there was no blog entry yesterday as I sat in front of my computer monitor waiting for the Sharks and Stars to finish. As the night wore on, I simply said "to hell with this", and went to bed. Thank you, Brendan Morrow, for allowing me to get a few hours of sleep.

More OT Heroics: Marian Hossa put the final nail in the New York Rangers' season yesterday as he scored the overtime winner to allow the Pittsburgh Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

Hossa, who has carried the label as a "playoff underachiever", scored two goals in yesterday's 3-2 OT victory, and has recorded ten points thus far in the playoffs.

"For a guy that's been criticized and known for not scoring big goals in the playoffs when it's clutch time, obviously he scored an unbelievably big goal," teammate Pascal Dupuis said to The Canadian Press.

"I had some bad playoffs and I had some good playoffs, I can't control what other people say about my playoff performance," Hossa said in his interview. "I always try and I'm on a great team right now, and I can just enjoy the ride."

With the home victory yesterday, the Penguins have now won thirteen consecutive home games dating back to the regular season. They'll meet up with their interstate rivals in the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Final, and this rivalry has all the makings of Colorado-Detroit from the 1990s. Neither of these teams like one another, and I am really looking forward to this series!

Fallen Soldiers: Russian goaltender Alexander Eremenko injured his right ACL during Sunday's 5-4 overtime win against the Czech Republic, leaving Russia with only one goaltender on its roster. Czech forward Jiri Novotny was brought down by Russian defenceman Vitali Proshkin at the 7:44 mark of the second period, and both men landed on top of Eremenko.

With only having Mikhail Biryukov left on the roster as a goaltender, you'd have to think that a phone call will be going out to San Jose today to see if Evgeni Nabokov will want to dress for the Russians. The Russian squad looks to be a favorite to bring home a medal, and getting Nabokov would help them immensely in their quest for a 2008 IIHF Men's World Championship gold medal.

Russia has applied for the insurance for Nabokov, so this seems like a done deal.

Bringing In The Recruits: With the elimination of some teams in the second round of the NHL playoffs, several teams have added some high-profile talent to their squads at the World Championships.

Belarus has added Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mikhail Grabovsky of the Montreal Canadiens up front, and added Ruslan Salei on their blueline in the hopes to avoid the relegation round.

The Russians, besides adding Nabokov, have also applied to have Fedor Tyutin of the New York Rangers added to their defence. Tyutin will bring a little more size to the Russian blueline.

The Czech Republic has added Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens, and are hoping to add Petr Prucha and Michal Rozsival of the New York Rangers later this week. The Czechs already have a strong team, and this will make them more formidable as the tournament progresses.

Norway has added defenceman Erik Ryman of AIK in the Swedish League, as well as Eirik Skadsdammen of Storhamar. Both players should help the Norwegian squad out.

Slovakia strengthened their goaltending position by adding Peter Budaj of the Colorado Avalanche. He is expected to be in uniform against the Germans tonight.

Sweden officially added Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks to their defence. Forward Michael Holmqvist of Frolunda Gothenburg in Swedish Elite League was also added, and both players are eligible to play against France tonight.

Finland added Montreal Canadiens' star Saku Koivu to their lineup. The addition of Koivu gives the Finns a legitimate scoring threat, and Koivu should elevate the play of his linemates as well.

In Memory: A sad note to pass on. I had spoken about the efforts of the staff and students of St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic School in Whitby, Ontario to make Grade One student Jonathan Liscio's life a little better by raising money to help his family pay for cancer treatment on my April 24, 2008 article entitled Rapid Fire Blogging.

Bob McKenzie of TSN has reported this week that the little Montreal Canadiens fan has lost his battle with cancer on the morning of May 2, 2008. Hockey Day in School was the last day of school that Joshua attended.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Joshua's family: his father Victor, his mother Janet, and his little brother Ethan. My thoughts and prayers also go out to the staff and students of St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic School, and the community of Whitby.

Rest in peace, Joshua. You'll always be hockey's biggest fan.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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