The NHL likes to brag, justifiably, about how the Stanley Cup is the hardest championship to win, how their postseason is the most grueling in all of professional sports, and we will never disagree. We’re just sitting on our couch watching and we’re exhausted. So we want to start tonight’s game diary with an expression of our gratitude to the schedule maker who gave us a break today; with no early game we were able to take rejuvenating naps. Tonight we are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to blog us some great game diary. (As an aside, our favorite anonymous players in the league are the ones who answered that THN player poll earlier this year by saying their favorite part of being in the NHL is the naps. That is just fantastic. Schnookie has long held that if napping was an Olympic sport she’d be an American hero.)
The pregame features an interview on the ice with Teemu; we neglected to mention during our recap of Game 4 that Selanne seems to have been replaced at some point during this series with Lon Cheney. His face is just… just… wow. It hurts so much to think about how swollen, discolored, meaty, exploded it is. Ouch.
We hate those wrap-around LCD screens in arenas, and we recoil with horror when we discover the Ducks have two wrapping around the arena bowl, and one on their Jumbotron.
We love, love, LOVE the sign taped to the glass behind Giggy with the Canucks throwback logo rendered with a golf club; we award it the “‘CBC — Canadian Broadcasting Company’ Sign Of Excellence” award tonight.
18:42 The Ducks come out flying (huh. That’s like a pun. I wonder if anyone’s ever done anything with that concept before…), and one of the Sedins takes a penalty.
17:59 We find ourselves regretting that we’ve been paying only moderate attention to this series as Dave Strader tells us how wretched the special teams have been for both these teams. Sounds exciting!
17:29 For once we find a reason to like Chris Pronger: he injures Brendan “The Brat” Morrison with a shot. Keep firing, Prongsie.
15:50 Pronger’s back on notice — The Brat has returned to the ice. It’s a steep uphill climb for Prongsie to win our love, and we don’t doubt he’s very concerned about that.
15:08 We realize what this playoffs has been missing: a preening coach with some stupid catchphrase that the media gloms onto so you just want to strangle your television every time you have to hear about it. In 2003 it was Babcock using the word “greasy”. Last year it was Laviolette and those dumb “relentless” coins. Come on, remaining coaches in the playoffs — let’s get on this.
13:59 Andy Brickley marvels at how Luongo “makes himself bigger” even while on his knees so he can cover the top of the net. Pookie: “It’s because he’s a ten-foot-tall butterfly goalie. How exciting.” We are not, needless to say, impressed by Luongo.
12:41 Sean O’Donnell makes an outlet pass that turns into a good scoring chance off the rush by Perry. Why is it O’Donnell can approximate a competent NHLer now that he’s a Duck, but couldn’t do that as a Devil in the 2001 Stanley Cup Final? (Andy Brickley, by the way, needs a crash course on noun-verb agreement. He is struggling with the concept of plurals.)
12:23 Beauchemin looks like he could be Millhouse’s cousin.
11:37 It cracks us up how the Niedermayers are not given Sedin treatment in the play-by-play (i.e. just calling them by their first names) and get a slightly more formal “Brother” tacked onto their names. They are “Brother Scott” and “Brother Rob”. It reminds us of the bad guys in “Diamonds Are Forever”. (Lon Cheney? “Diamonds Are Forever”? Is our total dorkiness showing yet?)
10:51 Perry takes a holding penalty against Salo in the offensive zone. The announcers seem unfamiliar with the idea that the team with possession of the puck when the whistle blows is the one that took the penalty.
8:51 Luongo makes a quick save on a bouncing redirect by Moen. We grudgingly concede he’s looked sharp so far.
7:08 Getzlaf, the Official Favorite Duck of IPB, makes a great pass from deep in his zone to a streaking Perry, but he is bested by Bieksa’s D and Luongo’s quick leg pad.
5:38 The Ducks get another chance at impressing us with the sucktitude of their power play when Smolinski gets nabbed for tripping. What the Ducks don’t realize is that, after closely observing the Devils and the Sabres, we are not easily impressed by run-of-the-mill lousy power plays.
4:21 Okay, that was bad. Nieder gets called for interference after Bulis runs into him on a shorthanded chance. We are reasonably impressed that the Ducks’ power play was able to negate itself with a profoundly awful call.
2:44 Vancouver puts on a clinic on how to stink up the joint with a man advantage; Anaheim can learn a lot from them.
0:03 We smile knowingly as the fans at the Honda Center realize the painful, brutal limitations of Sean O’Donnell. He gets a clear-cut breakaway in these waning seconds, and a frisson of anticipation goes through the crowd… then he sucks miserably and the fans settle back into grumbling dissatisfaction. Yeah, Ducks fans, he still owes the Devils fans a Cup.
We have officially reached our limit for listening to Brian Engblom, Keith Jones and Bill Clement. We’re impressed it took them this long. Back in the ESPN days we were sick of their intermission show by midway through the first intermission of the first game of the playoffs.
Mee-ow! After we complained about the VS guys, they proceed to jump all over Ron Wilson’s public critique of two “unnamed” Sharks (read: Guerin and Marleau) who have been especially awful in their series; the sequence is nicely catty on their parts, complete with slo-mo, excruciating highlights of the players’ mistakes. (Full disclosure: when Guerin was a Devil he was known at stately IPB Manor as “Butthead”. And not in an endearing way. We are not at all surprised to hear the Sharks are not getting their money’s worth from that Butthead acquisition.)
19:46 Luongo and the Canucks are losing their minds, because Pahlsson scores after Luongo gets pushed into the net by a rebound-seeking Moen and Pahlsson beats the Vancouver D to the loose puck. We, frankly, are pretty surprised that counted. But we’re not complaining. (Although we still don’t like Pahlsson because he’s Pando’s competition for the Selke.) (Further replay suggests the four Canucks climbing all over Moen may have contributed to Luongo being shoved into the net.)
18:01 Ohlund takes a holding penalty. Are the Canucks unraveling?
16:13 It doesn’t take much to get called for holding tonight; Perry goes to the box after a bit of jostling near the corner.
15:46 The Canucks put together a surprisingly cohesive rush on the power play and Beauchemin hooks Naslund as he goes around him at the blue line. So does a 2-man advantage for the Canucks just make their power play twice as bad?
13:44 Yes. Yes it does. The Ducks didn’t really even have to break a sweat on that kill. (Admittedly, the Canucks did hit a post. But still.)
10:01 Penner, that dog, can’t corral a nifty pass/shot from the point after some prolonged pressure by the Ducks.
9:15 Proving why she is just the Den Mother and not The Blogger, Boomer muses aloud, “I hope they call Moen ‘The Drip’.” We chuckle politely.
8:02 The Canucks squeeze off a dangerous, bouncing shot out of a kind of nothing play, and Giggy shows he’s capable of making good saves after long stretches of snoozing all alone at his own end of the ice.
6:11 Strader: “Vancouver just doesn’t seem to have the puck very much.” Yeah, that’s not a great plan if you hope to win.
4:35 Kunitz, McDonald and Selanne put together a clever tic-tac-toe 3-on-2 rush up high, but Luongo’s glove is more than Selanne’s shot can handle.
3:55 The VS “storyline” to this point includes that Vancouver has mustered only 13 shots. Do they not realize this is an elimination game?
2:17 When the Perry, Getzlaf and Penner (Do they have a name? Something clever and endearing like ‘The EGG Line’? Oh, wait. There’s nothing endearing about the EGG Line. Never mind.) line is on the ice… well, there’s really no contest between them and the Canucks. They don’t score, but they move the puck around the zone with alacrity and end up drawing a roughing penalty on Bieksa.
1:12 Goodness but that was some poor decision-making by Burrows; as he is being worked over on the boards with the puck at his feet, he chooses to just fall on it instead of trying to move it. He is, predictably, called for delay of game. 5-on-3 for the Ducks.
0:00 Anaheim gets some decent looks, but nothing comes of the 5-on-3. We decide not to give credit where it’s actually due (to Luongo and Trevor Linden) and instead blame Teemu for just not being able to finish.
We have a friend who jokingly refers to the Sedins as “The Cute One” and “The Bitter One”; tonight it seems they could more appropriately be called “The Even One” and “The Minus One”. We failed to notice at the time that they were — gasp! — broken up on that opening shift on which the Ducks scored, so we thank Keith for bringing it to our attention.
Before the intermission show cuts to commercial Clement promises a “breakdown” of the Devils-Senators series that is, yuckety yuk, “all about breakdowns”. Pookie: “Emotional breakdowns. Nervous breakdowns.” Boomer politely chuckles.
We get a video testimonial from Chris Phillips discussing his Stanley Cup dreams — and he’s wearing his undertaker suit. Why is he dressed that way?
18:35 Through gritted teeth we admit the desperation save Luongo makes on Pahlsson is a really good one. (And for all that VS has been incapable of providing any insightful replays in the Ottawa-Jersey series, their replays of that save are fantastic, especially the overhead. Nice camera work, guys.)
18:05 Baby Nieder high-sticks Ohlund. We’re sure the penalty killers are terrified.
16:47 Krajicek gets elbowed in the head by Pronger and gets called for interference. He should probably think twice next time he decides he wants to impale his own ear on Prongsie’s elbow pad, because they’ll call him for that every time.
15:51 Giggy is not at all dazzled by what Strader calls “the magic of the Sedin Twins” and stones Ohlund after a great feed from either The Cute One or The Bitter One.
15:24 As VS floats Prongsie as a possible early Conn Smythe candidate, Pookie elucidates her reasons for disliking him: “He looks like he’s made out of… dead body parts. Like a resurrectionist dug up the six ugliest bodies he could find in the darkest, dankest cemeteries in Victorian London.”
15:19 Pookie is looking away from the TV when Getzlaf takes his team off the PP by tripping Burrows; having missed the infraction she hopefully suggests “he was done wrong” by the officials. “No,” Boomer clarifies, “It was a stupid penalty. His brain cell failed him.”
11:16 While they could hardly be described as “threatening”, the Canucks are certainly skating better in this period. They’ve cut into the shot differential so now the Ducks have just a 44-17 advantage.
9:57 Burrows scores on a rebound from a Green shot; Strader goes out on a limb and describes it as “by far the Canucks’ best shift, perhaps, of this game.” Well, yeah, you could say that.
8:09 We wonder at what point in the game the broadcasters’ contractual obligation to mention that the elimination game is the hardest game to win kicks in. Is it when the game goes to overtime? Or when Vancouver takes a lead? Or just at the 15-minute mark of the third period?
4:50 The way both teams are playing right now it kind of looks like they’re both playing for the point in regulation and will duke it out for that extra point in the standings in the OT or shootout. We wonder if someone should mention to them that it doesn’t work that way anymore.
0:28 McDonald puts on his “I don’t want to go to overtime” wheels and spins a tricky little wraparound shot that, sadly, doesn’t beat Luongo.
0:00 We are so glad we got a chance to nap… because we are going to overtime!
FIRST OVERTIME INTERMISSION
Keith Jones, in a discussion of the Rangers-Sabres series, proclaims, “Maxim Afinogenov should be called ‘Minimum’ Afinogenov”, then looks into the camera all, “And you can quote me on that.”
Holy crap. We are as stunned, and so are Strader and Brickley, to discover Sabourin has replaced Luongo in net. There is no explanation, but Strader informs us someone has sprinted up the hallway from the Vancouver bench to the dressing room. Craziness!
17:49 The not-EGG Line puts together some good pressure, and Sabourin juggles one shot. Almost immediately the announcers inform us Luongo was out for an equipment problem (Seriously???? He had an entire intermission and still wasn’t ready?), and that he’s now on the bench. Of course, the Ducks proceed to pin the Canucks in the zone and end up with 5 shots before the Canucks get possession, get a shot, and get play frozen by Giguere. An extremely relieved Sabourin is replaced by Luongo.
15:03 This has been the best five minutes of the game. Luongo’s first shot faced is from McDonald, who manages to beat him five-hole but the puck goes wide of the far post. Then the Canucks get some equally good opportunities at the other end. Who knew, based on the first 60 minutes of this game, that these two teams could skate so well?
12:20 Now that’s the Sean O’Donnell we recognize: he drills a slapshot from the point straight into a defenders legs and the Canucks get a decent chance off the ensuing rush.
10:01 The Canucks collapse around the net and clean up a rebound on a scramble in front. Come on, Ducks — get on those loose pucks.
9:49 Mitchell takes a delay of game penalty by throwing the puck over the glass. VS gives us a reaction shot of a strangely shrugging Brian Burke, only they show it in slo-mo. “That was really scintillating television,” Pookie says of that editorial option.
8:33 Some great shot-blocking by the penalty killers has the Ducks stymied.
6:57 Giggy slides a bit wide facing Mitchell at the point and the shot beats him but just goes wide of the net.
6:25 Billy Jaffe tells us about what great friends and admirers of each other Giggy and Luongo are, up to and including having the occasional lunch together during the offseason. Schnookie: “Luongo and Giggy are the ladies who lunch?”
3:21 McDonald is a dervish in the offensive zone, but we know the Ducks aren’t going to score because O’Donnell’s out there, too.
1:45 Vancouver has a staggeringly awful change that allows two Ducks to go in on the attack with speed… but they cross up their signals and end up essentially stickchecking themselves and the play peters out.
0:00 Hot damn! Another overtime!
SECOND OVERTIME INTERMISSION
Jonesie further tires out the East Coast audience with a rambling story about changing goalies on icing calls. What rejuvenation we got from our naps this afternoon is lost after that not even remotely interesting story. (After all that set-up the punch line is… that you can’t change your goalie after you ice the puck? That was the lead-in to the story. Come on, Keith.)
There is still no explanation of what caused Luongo to not be able to start the last overtime.
19:40 Bulis gets a great chance all alone high in the slot, but Giggy gets a shoulder on it.
18:15 Penner and Perry are each other’s own worst enemies; they collide behind Luongo’s net and the Canucks defenders retrieve the puck.
15:30 THAT is a fun way to win an overtime game! Baby Nieder flattens a Canuck on his way out of the zone, the puck squirts out to Big Nieder at the point, and his long shots beats Luongo. VS completely drops the ball on the replays, though, and we don’t really get an idea of how such a long, relatively unscreened shot beat him. The goalcam view suggests Luongo just lost his focus (Brickley thinks he was holding his glove arm up looking for a penalty on the Baby Nieder hit) and was caught completely by surprise, but another angle kind of hints maybe the shot was deflected by Salo.
Footage of a celebrating Wild Wing gives us a great look at the very, very strange gussets in his crotchal region.
Billy Jaffe interviews Nieder after the handshake line, and we decide a bearded Nieder looks like a crazy guy who would live in a cabin in the woods… like the Unabomber, but not a guy who would put bombs in your mailbox. More like he would put twigs and dirt and stuff in your mailbox, then stand across the street and stare creepily at you as you take all the stuff out when you pick up your mail. In case you were wondering.
So the Ducks move on to the Western Conference Final, and we are just floored that we’re kind of… happy about it. Us liking the Ducks. Who would have thunk it?