Thursday, May 14, 2009
Many are lamenting the slow pfffffffffftttttttt of the scintillating Crosby-Ovetchkin series on Wednesday night. Indeed, the 6-2 pantsing the Pens gave my Caps was the most stunning "buildup-to-disappointment" moment since I first heard Miss America Vanessa Williams had posed nude for Playboy, to when I actually saw the photos with my own adolescent eyes. (Ewwww. Airpit hair!)
Instead, let's give Caps-Pens a standing ovation for the thrill ride it was.
For 92% of the series prior to Game 7, the game was played within a 1 goal margin. Amazing. A total of 5 one-goal games, three overtimers, and a dueling hat-trick game between the two stars.
Mix in a tour-de-force effort at home by Malkin when the Pens needed it most (Game 3, down 2-0) and some controversy and bad blood on Ovetchkin's knee-on-knee hit to Gonchar, and you've got a nearly perfect Stanley Cup playoff tussle.
The only other black mark was the unfortunate schedule hiccup that put Games 4 and 5 on back to back nites thanks to a Yanni concert, and the NHL's move to delay the series for NBC's sake.
Penguin fans can legitimately say they have the better team, although the argument over who is the "World's Best Player" has not been resolved. Crosby is undeniably great, even more so in my eyes after watching him play in person. Plus, he delivered scoring this series, which was a small point of contention during the regular season with some of his detractors.
Ovetchkin was electric too, and one can only imagine what it would be like if it was Crosby and Ovetchkin together, not Crosby and Malkin.
Pens fans may now believe that this is indeed "their year" even though they languished out of the playoff window entirely much of the season.
I can't honestly say Caps fans ever felt that THIS was indeed "their" year. It was a "why not us" year. But not "theirs."
Clearly, they need more blue line help, and they need to figure out what to do with a great defensive scoring weapon like Mike Green when the playoffs dictate a more stay at home philosophy.
The goaltender of the future is now here and ready. And if Semin can have a slightly better playoffs next spring, all the elements are in place.
All told, though, better teams than ours, have lost a lot sooner than this.
Thanks Ted Leonsis for "putting away the stupid pills" as owner. (His words.) Thanks George McPhee for patiently putting the pieces of this team in place. Thanks to Coach Boudreau for emerging as a gem of a bench boss, and a very likeable one at that.
Thanks to maybe the best hometown TV and Radio voices for one team in any sport. Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin are network quality, and they are all ours. Steve Kolbe belts out the radio call with the best of them.
The fans last night stood and applauded for a good 90 seconds as the blood drained out of the season. It was a season to appreciate, and they are a team we can really embrace.