04/16/2008 4:09 PM
THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Playoff Notes- Madness in the Land of Ice and Snow
By Chad Huebner
There’s playoff hockey, and then there’s the Colorado-Minnesota series.
We all figured this was going to be one that could go the distance, and where the teams are so evenly matched, the players could switch jerseys and no one would notice the difference (well, unless Joe Sakic tried to wear Derek Boogaard’s jersey). These two clubs play eight regular season games against each other, and we’re staring at the prospect of another seven more in April. But we didn’t figure it was going to be this close. Three OT games, all three with 3-2 scores. Why not have every game in the series finish this way? I dunno if Doc Emrick’s ticker could take it.
But we probably should have known things would have been so tight between these two teams based on past playoff performances. It was the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Wild, in just their fourth season of existence, were in the postseason for the first time in franchise history as a No. 6 seed. The Avs, a No. 3 seed, were in the Cup Finals two out of the previous three seasons, so most figured Colorado was going to mop the ice with Minnesota, especially when they were up 3-1 in the series. But the Wild stormed back, winning Games 5, 6, 7 by 3-2 results, with 6 and 7 coming in OT. Freaky, no?
(Man, I should’ve printed this column out sooner, since the Avs blasted the Wild 5-1 in Game 4. It pays to be more on time with this stuff, which is my advice to aspiring hockey columnists/reporters. Still, at least the series is tied again, and there was plenty of hitting and brawling to give the UFC a run for its money. Sorry about the intrusion, let’s go back to the column, already in progress. . .)
Whatever the outcome is, two things are for certain: 1) This will go down as one of the best playoff series of all-time, and 2) The winning side will be running on fumes going into the next round of the playoffs.
Its playoff hockey, buck-o, enjoy it at your own risk.
And now, it’s that time where I unleash a bevy of playoff notes. Just some observations I make during the postseason not only for the NHL, but the other levels as well. . . but it’s mostly NHL-related (I can’t help myself). Thank you and enjoy:
-While I do enjoy the guest players Versus has in its studio on a weekly basis, I can’t help but think about the old axiom: Those who can’t win in the regular season, talk about what to do in the postseason.
-Johan Franzen scores his first postseason goal, and Detroit’s first goal of the postseason. See? I told you that the supporting cast of the Red Wings would have to come through to make this team successful. Plus, doesn’t Franzen sound like a good name for a winery? I get really bored at work and think of stupid stuff, can’t you tell?
-Caught some of the Frozen Four on ESPN. College hockey is just some of the craziest stuff I’ll ever watch in the sport. Nice to see Notre Dame (whose football team I like and who pretty much everyone else in the universe hates, for some unknown reason) make a run to the Championship Game, only to see Boston College (I don’t like their football team, so. . . there you go) win. Christian Hanson, who plays for the Fighting Irish is, as if you had to guess, the son of one of the Hanson Brothers from “Slap Shot”. Yep, the old man still has the same hair-do, no glasses, though.
-Yes, you can make many comparisons between Corey Price and Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy in their rookie seasons in the playoffs, but here’s the big difference: exposure. I don’t seem to recall the Internet or TV playing such a big role in the 70s and 80s as it does now. Yet Price is handling the pressure well for now.
-Just to point out that the last time the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup was the last time the Blackhawks made the playoffs. That’s what you get, Detroit, for trying to beat our asses year in and year out. Ease up, let us sneak into the postseason, and maybe you’ll finally justify all those great regular seasons that wind up meaning nothing because you can’t get past teams like the Ducks or the Oilers. It’s “The Curse of the Playoff Drought”.
-One of the announcers on Versus referred to J.S. Giguere as the “money goalie” for the Ducks. Umm, hello? He’s been money for the Ducks since at least 2003! This isn’t a newsflash, folks.
-One more thing about Versus: turn the damn volume up on your broadcasts! I’m sick and tired of having to bump up the volume on my TV, only to have the commercials, other channels blaring at me when I switch to something else. Nothing like a good Life-Alert commercial at 100 decibels to wake you up (“ALL SENIOR CITIZENS NEED LIFE-ALERT”, the elderly lady shrieks).
-To continue my old-man rant: To those who get up and wave to the camera while the camera is panning back and forth during the action, please stop doing this. You’re being as annoying as the people on cell-phones at baseball parks who constantly wave at the camera because, hey dude, you’re on camera! I just wonder how the people at the hockey games know when to stand up, because, ironically, they’re not on cell-phones when they do it.
-One of the most unknown stats in sports history has to be Chris Chelios’ most playoff games played record. You’d think naw, has to be Howe or Richard or even Gretzky. But then again, Chelly’s played for the Canadiens, ‘Hawks and now Red Wings during times when all three clubs would make the playoffs on a regular basis. Still, the 89-year-old Chelly keeps plugging away.
-I thought that a better first-round matchup for Detroit, or at least one that would be more challenging, would have been the Oilers. I thought this at least until the midway point of Game 3 against the Preds. Then I thought maybe the Preds have a shot at turning this series around, especially if they tie it up at home in Game 4. Then I also thought a steady diet of fast food wouldn’t be bad for me provided I exercise on a regular basis, and that’s when I realized the Preds are just prolonging the inevitable.
-Finally, it’s time to say goodbye to the Guildford Flames and their fans, those hearty few who decide to read my stuff and maybe glean some pearls of wisdom from it (note: there aren’t any, trust me). For those of you new to my column, I’ve been writing for the Flames since the column’s inception in 2005. Congrats to the Flames on their second English Premier League championship, and I’ll see you in the fall.
Remember; e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for anything on your mind, hopefully hockey related. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.