What have we been watching for the past two weeks? The past two months?
I try not to over sensationalize what’s happening around us (I try not to use the word ‘classic’ for something that happened last week – that’s one of my pet peeves) but what we’ve witnessed over the past sixty days has been nothing short of awesome.
I can’t think of a playoff series with more story lines, more unbelievable moments, more cinematic drama and just ‘wow’ moments as this year. It all comes down to one game seven tomorrow night.
Start with Tampa Bay. I’m partial because I’m an Oilers fan, but if you couldn’t get behind the story of Dwayne Roloson with a possible chance at the Cup, then you just don’t like to have fun. An Oilers castoff, Roloson found work in the trenches of Long Island. This year he gets dealt to Tampa Bay, where he begins to outplay Dan Ellis. Ellis gets dealt to Anaheim, and the Roloson / Mike Smith tandem charge toward the playoffs.
Anybody remember what Tampa looked like at the end of last year? Steve Yzerman’s first year as GM made him look nothing less than genius.
How about the Flyers?
Philadelphia was poised to make a deep run in the playoffs, and they barely squeaked by the Sabres in round one, at one point trailing 3-2 in the series. Their Achilles’ heel showed up in round 2, as they were disposed of by the Bruins in four straight. Now the owners of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights, they try to sign a goaltender that will try and help them get over the hump.
Take me to the West. Love or hate the Canucks, their ride to the Cup Finals has been full of twists. Up 3-0 against the defending Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks in round one, only to win in seven. Tough series follow in Nashville and San Jose, and after a 2-0 lead to start the finals, the entire hockey world sits on the cusp of a game 7 back in Vancouver against a thirsty Bruins team.
And here we stand today.
Game seven will take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver tomorrow night, and what a buildup it’s been. The Canucks had all but broken out the victory champagne after their 2-0 series lead over the Bruins, but Boston bounced back in two games that saw Canuck goaltener Roberto Luongo yield twelve total goals. Vancouver grabs game 5, and Boston sends it to seven after a 5-2 victory in Massachusetts.
Vancouver’s Aaron Rome unloaded a second or two late on an unsuspecting Nathan Horton, causing Horton to sustain a severe concussion. Horton had to be carted off the ice and has been out since game 3. As with many concussions, it will be difficult to determine how long Horton will be out, and no one will really know the long term damage his career may sustain. Similarly, off-balanced Canuck winger Mason Raymond was the recipient of a questionable hit from John Boychuk early in the first. Raymond sustained what is being called a vertebrae compression fracture, and will likely need three to four months to recover.
THINGS YOU HEAR
I can’t remember a time when there was more chatter about (and between) two teams in a Cup Final. Roberto Luongo is in. Wait, he’s out. He’s back in again. Tim Thomas can’t hack it on the road. Wait, he’s played well. Not well enough to win. Do the Sedins have enough confidence to help bring a Cup home? Is this Mark Recchi’s last game ever? Is Keith Ballard going to be scratched for game 7?
Do the Canucks claim their first Stanley Cup in their 40 year history? Or, are the Bruins rewarded with their first cup since 1972?
The Bruins visit the Canucks tomorrow night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Whatever happens, you’re not likely to forget it in your lifetime.
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