I expect a pretty moving memorial for Mr. Hockey out of San Jose tonight. The NHL may only get one shot at giving Grdie Howe the send-off he deserves, so expect this to be a bit of a tear-jerker. Gordie Howe was around for the founding of the California Golden Seals and Los Angeles Kings, so there is some history of Mr. Hockey in California. In February of 1991, Gordie Howe showed up for the San Jose Sharks' jersey unveiling as well, so there's a tie-in to the Sharks for Mr. Hockey.
A nice gesture from the NHL, Sharks, and Penguins on the recent tragedies in Orlando, Florida as well. I have refrained from making comments about it on social media, but it's senseless and ridiculous to think that a first-world country as powerful as the United States of America - the pinnacle of freedom for so many poorer nations - is still held hostage by its own gun laws. In saying that, I want to pass on my thoughts and prayers for all those affected by the senseless violence. Fight for a better future, folks.
Let's get this game rolling! Don't forget: refresh often!
- Matt Murray is 5-0 after a loss in these playoffs. Meaningful?
- Looks like Thornton and Crosby are taking their games to a new level! A little violence between the two stars is good for the game, no?
- San Jose is throwing the bigger hits, but Pittsburgh has the only shot thus far some 2:30 into the game. Will that be a telling trend in this game?
- First whistle at 3:16 after San Jose ices the puck.
- Kessel just misses an airborne pass at the edge of the crease. Give the first good scoring chance to the HBK line.
- Thornton line gets trapped. They seem to suffer this lapse in being able to clear the puck at least once every ten minutes. That could cost the Sharks tonight.
- First commercial break is just over six minutes in. Time for a beverage refill!
- Martin Jones, as per CBC's Scott Oake, has played his way into the Conn Smythe chatter. I'm gonna disagree unless they go seven games.
- Nieto and Tierney with San Jose's first great chance.
- Dainius Zubrus just tackled Brian Dumoulin. He'll sit for two minutes for mugging. It actually looks like a trip, and Zubrus will watch from the box.
- Brian Dumoulin's point shot goes right through Martin Jones, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have a power-play goal to give them the all-important lead! PITTSBURGH LEADS 1-0.
- Melker Karlsson takes a bump from Olli Maatta and does the splits against the boards. He grabs at his hamstring. This injury doesn't look good. Here's hoping it's not serious.
- Malkin and Kunitz play a little give-and-go, but Malkin can't stay on the fringe in this game. He should have been following up for a rebound on the far side.
- Sharks have one shot on net. 11:30 is gone. Not good.
- Chris Kunitz might have made the early highlight-of-the-night play as he broke up a breakaway by Joel Ward. Great hustle from the Penguins winger.
- Fantastic pressure from the San Jose Sharks as they pinned the Penguins in their zone, but Murray and the defence hold strong.
- Another commercial break, and this is the second time I've seen the Scotiabank commercial in two breaks. A little variety goes a long way, CBC.
- Melker Karlsson is back. No injury. Excellent news.
- Incredible action both ways, but no additional goals. Martin Jones looks like he shook off that weak goal on the power-play. He was sharp on that last sequence.
- It's like a car wreck in front of both nets. All sorts of traffic and bodies everywhere!
- Donskoi with an excellent chance that stays out with just under 30 seconds to play. Best shot from the Sharks for the entire period for sure!
- That'll do it for the first period! Pittsburgh takes the lead into the intermission.
- Just a heads-up for those following other sports, but Canadian Brooke Henderson is playing in a playoff for the Women's PGA Championship against Lydia Ko. Ko is ranked #1 in the world. Yeah, this household is cheering for Brooke!
- With the 37 commercials needed to set the intro to Coach's Corner, I might have time to watch this entire playoff!
- Don Cherry is lamenting the Sharks' lack of a dump-and-chase game. Coach, you might want to check Pittsburgh's blue line speed. That's a big part of it.
- Don with a great Gordie Howe story. Gordie was a beauty!
- In women's golf, Ko and her caddy are discussing the approach shot. Looks like a five-iron from the right edge of the fairway. She finds the green with her shot, and sits about 15-feet away from the pin. Nice shot.
- Henderson is on the left edge of the fairway. She's looking to replicate Ko's shot, but needs to avoid the tree to the left just in front of the green. WOW! Henderson is about 4-feet from the pin. That, folks, is a helluva shot.
- In case you missed it, I wrote a little piece on Brooke Henderson last August. She used to play goalie, and her dad also was a goaltender!
- Joel Ward gets a Hockey Night In Canada towel for speaking with Scott Oake.
- Lydia Ko's birdie attempt misses left. She'll two-putt her way to a par.
- Brooke Henderson has a chance to become the youngest major tournament winner in the LPGA's history. She will also become the second Canadian to win a major LPGA Championship.
- Brooke is lining this putt up carefully. She doesn't want to miss and go to a second playoff hole.
- And she does it! Brooke Henderson gets doused with water as the 18 year-old is the Women's PGA Champion for 2016! Congratulations, Brooke!
- Brooke shot a 65 today, winning in a playoff with a 6-under score!
- Back in San Jose, Gordie Howe's life is being celebrated. Hold on for this one, folks.
- Well, that was far more understated than I thought it would be.
- Second period is underway!
- Paul Martin has the puck go off his stick for the first stoppage.
- Sharks putting all kind of pressure on the Penguins, but they can't find the twine behind Matt Murray. Couture, Karlsson, and Marleau all with chances.
- Nick Bonino is stopped point-blank by Jones! How did he see that?!?
- Penguins look dazed and confused in their own zone right now.
- Murray covers up at the 3:13 mark, and the Penguins need to get their act together. It could be 2-1 or 3-1 San Jose right now with all those chances.
- Malkin with a gorgeous saucer-pass and Bryan Rust is denied by Jones!
- San Jose has all the momentum right now, and we're five minutes into the period. Pittsburgh has come out dopey in their own zone, and they're paying with fire right now.
- Crosby's stick breaks, and he skated about as lazily as I've ever seen to the bench. If your stick breaks and you want a change, get your butt to the bench!
- Again, Pittsburgh with some rather sloppy play in their own zone. This is gonna bite them in the rear end at some point.
- No sooner do I type the above, but Logan Couture with a nice toe-drag and he finds the five-hole on Murray for the game-tying goal! GAME TIED AT 1-1.
- Pittsburgh storms right back as Crosby and Sheary do some great work down low. Kris Letang dances with the puck off the blue line, tosses it in front, but it goes nowhere. Crosby finds it, though, and flips a pass to Letang on the right side of the net, and he finds room past Martin Jones! PITTSBURGH LEADS 2-1.
- Commercial break with 8:21 gone, and I need the break just to breathe! Incredible action here in Game Six!
- The World Cup of Money commercial is on. Does anyone actually care about this tournament? Better yet, can anyone actually afford to go to this tournament?
- Dear Glenn Healy: Letang's mistake in Game Three did not directly lead to this Game Six. Learn math. Better yet, don't make stupid statements.
- No offence to Tom Kuhnhackl, but he's a passenger in this game. Invisible.
- Hornqvist might have made the block that saved the period for the Penguins off that Dillon shot. Penguins forwards have blocked a ton of shots in this series.
- Commercial time once again on CBC. Gotta squeeze in the money-makers.
- Joe Pavelski never misses open nets like that. Don't expect him to do it twice, Penguins. A couple of great opportunities for the Sharks again.
- An icing call with 12:16 gone in the second period. You have to think that Crosby's line will be out against the Polak-Dillon pairing. And they are out there.
- Marleau just tried the over-the-shoulder shot from the left side that both Donskoi and Burns have used for goals. Murray made the save, but Kelly Hrudey made mention of this in the pre-game show. Will we see San Jose try this again? Possibly.
- Now Glenn Healy is pointing this out. Maybe I should have Healy's job?
- Jim Hughson just noted that Marc-Eduoard Vlasic hasn't taken a shift in a few minutes. I didn't see where he was injured if he is. That's a big loss.
- WHAT ARE THE PENGUINS DOING?!? Malkin to Kunitz on a 2-on-1, and Kunitz passed it back to Malkin who wasn't expecting it! They have to bury those chances! That could be costly.
- Commercial break with 4:04 in the period.
- This Legend of Tarzan movie looks pretty terrible. Just sayin'.
- Burns creates a turnover, and Murray stops him.
- Conor Sheary just ran square into a referee along the boards. Not sure about this, but the guys in stripes aren't the opposition, Conor.
- Sheary throws it on net, Crosby and Hornqvist whack away, but Jones covers it. 3:19 to go.
- Pickles is back on the bench. Vlasic looks to take his normal rotation.
- I get rotating players back for pinching defencemen, but Evgeni Malkin has to put that puck deep instead of firing a slapshot into a defenceman. That's bad hockey.
- Dumoulin iced the puck when he had more time than ever. Will they pay for this mistake? Expect Marleau, Donskoi, and Couture out there.
- Final minute. Penguins seem content to take the one-goal lead to the intermission for the second time in this game.
- I appreciate the officials letting the players play, but when Brent Burns pushes a player directly on the numbers and he lands on his chest, that was penalty for 82 games.
- End of the second period, and the Penguins hold the smallest of leads.
- Is Strombo's outfit tonight paying homage to the old CBC light blue jackets? My lord, who is responsible for dressing this man?
- Kypreos just pulled out the "fat kid on a Smartie" line. Wow.
- In other news, I watched the new Star Wars movie today. I have to say that it was alright. Not overly great, but not bad either. I was very impressed with Daisy Ridley's performance, though. She can carry these new movies.
- I like Gerry Dee, but these Toyota commercials are a little much.
- Hearing Don Wittman's voice on the CBC Olympics commercial makes me miss the veteran broadcaster again. His voice was iconic. Great Winnipegger, too.
- Kris Letang gets a Hockey Night In Canada towel from Scott Oake.
- The Subway pulled pork commercial is one of the worst on television. The idiot who exclaims "Five hours?!?" needs to be punched in the head. Yes, you moron, it takes time for meat to cook. Is this your first day on the planet?
- Are these 30-second cut-ins by the Sportsnet crew that spew completely irrelevant information really necessary? Just toss another commercial up there and make some money. At least Scott Oake interviews some one. George just talks to hear his own voice.
- Scott Oake just informed us that with Henderson's win on the links, she will officially move to the #2-overall spot in women's golf. Well done, Brooke!
- 20 minutes. Can Pittsburgh hold on?
- Malkin was knocked off the puck by Brent Burns. Those are two big kids running into one another. No harm after all that, though.
- Who am I to criticize Sidney Crosby, but he's gotta be more selfish on that 3-on-2. The Sharks are playing like it's a fire drill when the Penguins enter their zone.
- 3:30 gone. Both teams waiting for the other to make a mistake.
- Karlsson with a great chance for the Sharks, but Murray covers up. 16:13 remaining.
- Second time a referee has been pinned on the boards. This time, Thornton and Cullen pin the official in the corner.
- This is the second time in the series that Crosby's weak clearing attempt resulted in pressure and a scoring chance for the Sharks. The captain has to be better.
- Conor Sheary is caught for hooking. San Jose needs a goal as they're 1-for-10 against the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.
- Eric Fehr has turned into an incredible defensive forward. Yes, he has sacrificed some of his offence, but his contributions on the penalty-killing unit in Pittsburgh has been noticeable.
- 12:33 left, and the penalty has been killed!
- Glenn Healy just noted that San Jose has one shot in nine minutes of play in this period. That's not an effective way to tie the game up, I'd say.
- Pavelski was wide-open on the left edge of the crease, and he opted to pass the puck. How often has Pavelski ever not opted to shoot when that open and that close? (Answer: never.)
- Brent Burns coughed up the puck at the blue line to Phil Kessel, and then takes a penalty in slashing Kessel's stick into two pieces. The Penguins will have a power-play when the game returns for the commercial break. This could be the game if the Penguins convert.
- 8:57 remaining. At worst, a shorthanded goal makes it 2-2. The Penguins could lead 3-1. Or they could simply eat two minutes off the clock. This is a big two minutes.
- 25 seconds left in the penalty, and the Penguins have done little to generate any offence. That's two minutes gone, though.
- 6:22 remaining, and CBC will opt for a commercial break.
- OH MY! Martin Jones just stoned Phil Kessel at the side of the net off a great cross-ice feed from Chris Kunitz! That's a game-saver, folks!
- 4:30 remaining, and still only one shot on net this period for the Sharks. Yikes!
- 4:02 left has us in another commercial break.
- Dear CIBC: these rubber penguins you're using in your ads? Enough. They're dumb.
- Sharks are offside with 3:43 to play.
- Icing call on the Sharks at 3:01. Time is becoming the enemy at this point.
- Mike Sullivan is mixing in a defensive fourth-line forward onto the top lines for the Penguins. Looks like he's comfortable enough with the one-goal lead. For now.
- Empty net for San Jose with 1:41 to play.
- Patric Hornqvist buries the empty-netter with 1:02 to play after Crosby blocks a point shot and feeds Hornqvist! PITTSBURGH LEADS 3-1.
- Pittsburgh takes a time-out with 30.2 seconds remaining. It's almost official, folks!
- A high stick will send Eric Fehr to the sin bin with 9.8 seconds to play.
- THAT. WILL. DO. IT!!!
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!
The chorus of boos rain down on Commissioner Gary Bettman as he awards the Conn Smythe Trophy to Sidney Crosby. I don't think anyone would have thought the captain of the Penguins would have been standing beside Gary Bettman receiving the trophy after the first month the Penguins had this season. However, it's who is standing at the end of the season that matters, and the Penguins erased all doubts from September with an inspired second-half of the season and throughout the playoffs!
Here's the procession of who gets to hold the Stanley Cup as it makes its way through the Penguins team:
Crosby, Daley, Dupuis, Fleury, Kunitz, Malkin, Cullen, Letang, Kessel, Fehr, Lovejoy, Hornqvist, Hagelin, Bonino, Cole, Schultz, Maatta, Dumoulin, Murray, Rust, Sheary, Kuhnhackl, Zatkoff, Bennett, Pouliot, Porter, Wilson, Sundqvist, Oleksy, Mike Sullivan (coach), Jacques Martin (asst. coach), Rick Tocchet (asst. coach), Sergei Gonchar (asst. coach), Jim Rutherford (GM).
Congratulations go out to the Pittsburgh Penguins, owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, and all of the organization on their Stanley Cup Championship!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!