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March 20, 2019
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Crosby Doesn't Dive



Game One of the New York-Pittsburgh series was wicked entertaining. Unless, of course, you're a Rangers fan, because then it kind of sucked. The Penguins erased a 3-0 deficit to win 5-4 on an Evegni Malkin power-play goal with 1:41 left in regulation. But it was all Sidney Crosby.

Not only did Sid draw the penalty, he created the goal with a rare slap shot, one-timing a blast while drifting backwards to the boards out high in the right circle. The puck nicked Malkin's shin pad and skipped behind Henrik Lundqvist. It was an absolute bomb. Yet all the Rangers wanted to talk about after the game was the penalty that led to the power play.

As the puck was heading towards the New York zone, Crosby streaked through center ice to support the play. Marty Straka was backchecking and bumped into Crosby, causing him to drop to one knee. Straka got two for interference.

Afterwards, the Rangers cried a river. They accused Crosby of embellishing the play. Yeah, the nerve of Sid, hustling through center and trying to win the game and whatnot. Crosby had a step and was about to be solid gone when Straka took a piece of him. Crosby didn't have the puck. Straka hit him with the intent of obstructing his progress up ice. That's interference. Deal with it.

Listen, if Straka doesn't initiate the contact, there wouldn't have been a penalty call. And if Straka doesn't hit him, Sid is solid gone, likely creating an odd-man break. Save the tears.

The whining continued in Game Two when Crosby drew a first-period holding penalty to Fedor Tyutin. Never mind that Tyutin took his left arm off his stick, grabbed Crosby by the shoulder, and pushed him to the ice. Apparently, that constitutes a dive. Who knew?

When Crosby skated to the bench, Jaromir Jagr screamed at him to, "Stand up!" Yeah, good one, Puff Nuts. I thought Jagr would be too busy sculpting his facial hair to even notice the game. Really, I'm sure having a landing strip on your face will be all the rage. It's not just for perverts and gay porn stars anymore.

Crosby doesn't dive. I can understand why other teams say it, because, well, it's all they've got. They can't stop him physically, so they have to try and play these idiotic mind games. People used to say the same stuff about Gretzky and Lemieux. Greatness comes with a price.

The best way to handle Kid Crosby is to leave him alone. Don't target him. Don't complain about him. Don't do anything to him. Just shut your mouth and know your role.

Crosby has a competition in him. If you challenge him, you'll lose. All it's going to do is make Sid angry. And you won't like Sid when he's angry.

And the Rangers have no reason to cry about the Crosby call in Game One. The Blueshirts got two power plays in the final six minutes of Game Two. But just because you get called for a penalty, doesn't mean you have to give up a power-play goal. That's what penalty-killers are for.

The Penguins killed their two penalties. That's what good teams do. The Rangers didn't kill their penalty, and then they cried about it. That's what losers do.


WHITEOUT?
The whiteout was cool as hell when Winnipeg did it back in the day. But it should have stayed in Manitoba. It was the Jets' tradition. It would be like teams other than the Sharks having painful, humiliating playoff collapses year after year. It just wouldn't be right.

I mean, I hate to break it to Pittsburgh management, but home teams no longer wear white. The fans should have worn black shirts. A Blackout would have been swank. Hell, even a Gold Rush would have been better. Or if they wanted to hammer home the penguin theme, everyone could have worn one of those real wizard tuxedo T-shirts. My wedding wouldn't have been the same without them.


STRATEGERY
Michel Therrien isn't much for the strategy. He considers matching lines to be only slightly less deplorable than the plural "s." Yet despite his infuriating stubbornness and confounding coaching, Therrien is still 6-0 in the postseason. He's the proverbial blind squirrel with a pocketful of nuts.

When the Penguins acquired Hal Gill, it was figured they were preparing for an eventual playoff series with Jagr and the Rangers. Gill has tormented Puff Nuts over the years, and everyone in Pittsburgh knows it. Except for Therrien.

Before the series, Therrien juggled his defensive pairings, putting Gill and Rob Scuderi together, while teaming Ryan Whitney with Kris Letang. It was believed Therrien was going to use Gill and Scuderi, arguably the team's top two defensive defensemen, to match Jagr. Didn't happen.

Over the first two games, Gill has been on the ice for only eight of Jagr's 47 shifts. Instead, Therrien is matching Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik against Jagr. It's ridiculous. I have no idea how Therrien gets away with this sort of stuff. Oh, wait. He's got Crosby and Malkin. Mystery solved.


MR. CUTHBERT
Sean Avery scored a sweet goal in Game One, but Jarkko Ruutu is owning him in the battle of agitators. Ruutu couldn't be any deeper under New York's skin with Raquel Welch and a shrink ray.

Avery was man enough to stick Crosby in the face while Sid was on the ice in Game One, but that's about it. At the end of Game Two, Avery tried to stir the pot, slashing Fleury, but the Flower whacked him right back, and then Mr. Cuthbert couldn't turtle fast enough when Gill and Georges Laraque descended upon him. Luckily for Avery, the stripes were there to get in the way before he was beaten senseless. But it was funny watching him flail away like the little punk he is. I was just looking for the mittens tied to the ends of his sleeves.


HOLLWEG TIME
Give the Rangers credit, at least they didn't cry about the quick whistle in Game Two. So that's something. Someone on the bench must have had some Midol.

While a series doesn't start until the home team loses, it's gonna be rough beating this Pittsburgh squad four times in five games. The Penguins are good. Like, scary good. And it happened in a hurry.

I always said they'd win the Cup in 2008-09, but the acquisition of Marian Hossa and the sudden, dramatic improvement of Fleury definitely sped up the process. This could be the year.

Look at the first two games. The Penguins can beat you 5-4 or 2-0. However you want to play it, they can beat you. That's the hallmark of a championship club, and it was certainly a trademark of the Lemieux Cup teams.

New York's only hope is to make things chippy. Expect to see Ryan Hollweg in Game Three. Playing Petr Prucha on the fourth line makes no sense. I'd go with Blair Betts, Colton Orr, and Hollweg on the fourth line and make it fun.


SHARKS BITE
I think it's common knowledge I hate the Sharks. Joe Thornton is a fraud, Jeremy Roenick is a clown, and their uniforms are uglier than homemade shoes. Yet for some reason, I still picked them to beat the Stars. I blame the sobriety.

San Jose looked awful in dropping the first two games at the Shark Tank. Brian Campbell has been embarrassingly bad, finding new and exciting ways to suck each shift. It's like Campbell and Patrick Marleau are having a contest to see who can be the bigger candy ass.

In Game One, Marleau literally jumped out of the way of a Mike Modano slap shot. It was stunning. And he's their captain!

The Sharks simply have no idea what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. They don't sacrifice; they don't play for each other; and it all starts at the top. Just compare the captains. Brenden Morrow would have blocked that Modano shot with his face if it meant winning the game.

I figured Dallas' young blue line would eventually crack, but it looks like I was misinformed. Sergei Zubov also returned in Game Two, whipping a real wizard behind-the-back pass to Modano for a power-play goal.

Yeah, it's only two games, but it gets late real early when you drop the first two at home. The Stars have the look of a championship team. Their big guys like Morrow, Modano, and Brad Richards are scoring big goals, their role players are stepping up, and Marty Turco has been rock solid. And if they get past the Sharks, I'd favor them against Detroit simply because of Turco.


FOPPA FLOP
Speaking of those filthy Red Wings, they're up 2-0 on the Avalanche. The Colorado cause has been crippled by injuries, as Peter Forsberg has yet to play due to a groin strain and Wojtek Wolski is lost for the series with the dreaded upper body injury. But really, who could have guessed Forsberg would get injured? He's very durable.

The good news is the Avalanche can't possibly play any worse than they did in Game Two, and they are heading home. I wouldn't be shocked to see things tied 2-2 going back to Motown. But it won't happen without Forsberg. At least the Avs got an extra day between Games Two and Three, so expect to see Foppa Tuesday night.

It remains to be seen whether or not Jose Theodore will be in net. Theodore tried to play through the flu in the first two games and only served to make Colorado fans sick. He was nauseating. But that's on Joel Quenneville. If he knew Theodore was sick, he should have rested him in Game One, which is always the least important game of a series, particularly when it's played on the road. And Peter Budaj ain't no joke. He's decent. But now Theodore's been shelled twice, and everyone's confidence is shot. No doubt, coaching is the biggest difference between these two clubs. Well, that and male genitalia.





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