Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals Game Seven: The Red...Got Rocked!
Now that that's out of the way...
It has been said that Game Sevens are where heroes are made. Well what happens if you were a hero before Game Seven.
In my preview of this game, I made the statement that some Pens' fans were basing their playoff hopes on the fact that Sidney Crosby just would not let his team lose.
That might have been the first and only intelligent comment I've ever made.
The majority of people who planned on watching this game tonight thought they were in for a nail biting, grind it out, thrown down battle to the final buzzer, and rightfully so.
Instead, the swamp of red, rivaled only by the rash on a two-year-old's back side, at the Bells and Whistles Center in Washington was taken out of the game in less than 13 minutes.
At the end of a series, people like to talk about series changing moments. This series had very few of those moments.
Not because it wasn't some of the best hockey in recent playoff history, but because the two teams were so evenly matched through the first six games.
Each team had won three games apiece, five games had been decided by one goal, three of them in overtime.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin had lived up to, and even exceeded the hype surrounding them in the media and amongst fans.
Simeon Varlamov came out of nowhere and looked like a seasoned veteran at most times, with the occasional shakiness of a rookie, and was getting the job done against the defending Eastern Conference Champions.
But in a series that includes so much talent, involves so much hype, and had played out so evenly, something had to give, right?
One moment, one player, one play would have to make a difference.
That moment came on Alexander Ovechkin's first shift of this hockey game.
AO got a breakout pass and was able to split Scuderi and Gill and waltz in one-on-one against Marc-Andre Fleury.
AO waited, deked, and went to the spot where he had beaten Fleury multiple times in the series, but this time, Fleury flashed the leather and robbed the Big Red Joke of a goal.
If that puck goes in the net, the bells and sirens and whistles and air horns and whale mating calls from Bruce Boudreau's wife in the press box all start going off at the same time.
The fans go nuts, the Caps' bench goes nuts, AO rockets himself into the glass before getting some celebratory Semin in his face.
Instead, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins' bench that was energized.
It summoned the feeling that every athlete who has ever been a part of a team has felt before. It is almost indescribable, but it's that feeling to reward your teammate, or back him up, for putting himself out there on a limb, or flashing some sort of brilliance that resulted in an awe-inspiring play.
Everyone has their own definition of it, but you know the feeling.
MAF invoked that feeling in the guts of every one of his teammates.
After the big save, the game continued at a break neck pace. The Pens' third line got some looks at the net, Semin fired 24 shots off the glass behind Fleury.
After a Shaoaooaaooane (no one can spell his name right) Morrisonn slashing penalty, the Pens' power play hit the ice for the first time in the game.
You want to talk about playoff warriors, you talk about Sergei Gonchar, unless you're from Washington, then you just boo one of the league's top three defensemen right out of town.
Gonchar was not 100 percent tonight after missing two games due to the knee-to-knee hit by Ovechkin in Game Four. The fact that he was even on the ice shows you what he is all about.
Gonch took the puck at the point on the power play, and as he has so many times, lined up for a shot. Shifting all of his weight to his left leg, Gonch fired the puck toward the side of the cage. Boo that, jokes.
Sidney Crosby was on the door step to receive the shot-pass from the point. Sid directed the puck to his stick using his right skate blade and tapped it in behind Varla-soft to open the scoring. 1-0 Pens.
Before you could wonder if the Pens were going to slack off after getting the early lead, Craig Adams kicked you in the face and told you to shut your mouth.
Ruslan Fedotenko fed a crisp pass across the ice to Adams, who found the five hole on Varla-soft for his first goal in 42 career playoff games. 2-0 Pens.
After the two quick goals, Ojokekin tired to start something. He ran over a Penguin in the offensive zone. He created a turnover, but Rob Scuderi thwarted the attack.
On the next shift, Brooks Orpik ran into Semin along the far boards. Apparently Sergei Fedorov took exception to the hit and cross checked Orpik in the back right in front of the official.
As a veteran player, you just can't make that mistake. You hear people talk about controlling your emotions in big games, well, Fedorov has never heard that statement before.
The Pens rattled off seven shots on the ensuing power play, with their best scoring chance coming from two whacks off the stick of Miroslav Satan at the side of the net, but Varla-soft stood his ground.
After the kill, the Caps generated some momentum in the dying minute of the period.
No. 52 for the Capitals (does anyone know who that guy is?) whiffed on a chance at a wide open net near the end of the period and the Pens took a two goal advantage into the break.
You had a feeling that the Caps were going to come out strong in the second period. The Pens were going to have to weather the oncoming sto...
Billy Guerin scored to make it 3-0 Pens.
If Mike Green wins the Norris Trophy, the NHL should shoot itself.
Watch the replay on the Guerin goal. Crosby gains the zone and pulls up near the far circle. Green is "defending" Sid on the play.
Rather than getting his stick in a shooting/passing lane, stepping up on Crosby to pressure him, or even bodying up on the puck carrier, Green is caught admiring the action.
Crosby had more time than the Boudreau family at a Continental Breakfast and found Guerin coming late. Guerin also went undefended in the slot and fired a shot past Varla-soft to make it 3-0 Pens.
Less than two minutes later, Varla-soft's season came to a screeching halt.
Evgeni Malkin was somehow allowed to come to a full stop with the puck on the offensive side of the red line (Mike Green was on the ice) and sail a perfect pass the entire width of the ice to Kris Letang.
Letang skated into the zone and released a shot that would make the Beltway sniper take a second look.
Varla-soft never saw it. Neither did 99 percent of the people watching the game.
Letang knew it was in. 4-0 Pens. Goodnight, Simeon.
Jose Theodore hopped over the boards and took over between the pipes for the Caps.
Eight minutes into Theo's tenure as the Caps' goaltender, Crosby set up Satan in front of the net. Miro waited with the patience of Job, but fired a shot over the net.
Satan redeemed himself on his next shift when he made a sick play behind the net and fed a nifty pass to the oak tree that is Jordan Staal in front of the net.
Staal buried it for his second goal of the playoffs and extended the lead to five goals.
Brooks Laich got his stick into the face of Brooks Orpik, but nothing was called. Big break for the Caps.
With less than two minutes to go in the second period, Fleury misplayed a soft dump-in behind the net and AO took advantage by snatching up the loose puck and using his big toe-curve to whip it into the gaping cage.
5-1 Pens heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
A four goal lead in the third period might have you feeling pretty secure during a game in mid-November. But this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No lead is safe.
That is, unless Brooks Laich is on your roster.
Laich once again lost control of his stick just 26 seconds into the third period and headed to the box for four minutes after it caught Crosby in the chops.
The Caps tried to get something going shorthanded, but the Pens would have none of it.
Ojokekin tried to go one against the world, but had his pocket picked by Sidney Crosby.
Crosby took off all alone down the ice, deked Theodore out of his jock and went five hole to put the icing on the Capitals' cake.
Laich tried to redeem himself by scoring a meaningless goal a couple of minutes later. Fail.
Semin was dishing out cross checks at every opportunity he had in the final half of the period.
This is the same guy who asked "what's so special about Sidney Crosby? I don't see anything special there" at the beginning of the regular season.
Crosby shrugged off the comment, finished third in the NHL scoring race, led the league in playoff goals through the first two rounds, and led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row.
Semin was invisible in this series. He fired more shots off of the glass than the rest of the Capitals' team combined. He also has a 3:00 tee time next Monday afternoon. Whoooooooooooooo.
The Pens were able to rest their big guns down the stretch and ultimately coasted to victory.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left Washington D.C.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 6 Washington 2
Series: Pittsburgh 4 Washington 3
As the series draws to a close, the Washington Capitals have a number of things to worry about.
Firstly, someone needs to contact Madison Square Garden to see if Mike Green ever left after Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. What a choke artist.
Secondly, the Caps' P.A. announcer should be getting a head start on his hunt for a summer job. Perhaps Mean Gene Okerland can hook him up with the WWE, or maybe the guys at PBR (Professional Bull Riding) are looking for some help.
Third, the Caps' national anthem singer needs to decide how he is going to put 18,000 people to sleep with his stunning rendition of the Star Spangled Banner now that hockey season is over.
Ted Leonsis might have some problems hitching a ride back to Baghdad, considering that the U.S. presence in Iraq has been on a bit of a decline recently.
Bruce Boudreau is scheduled to sign autographs outside of the Denny's in downtown Washington next week at 8:45 AM. A breakfast/lunch/brunch/dinner/midnight snack buffet will follow, but there won't be anything left after 9:00 AM.
Alexander Ovechkin is a hell of a hockey player. That became perhaps more evident in this series than ever before. It's just too bad this his integrity level rivals that of Manny Roidmirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Simeon Varla-soft might want to learn some English so that he knows what his coach is talking about when he says "stop the puck."
Perhaps the greatest sound you've heard all week was the silence that fell over the Bells and Sirens Center after the Pens mounted a five goal lead midway through the second period.
All jokes aside, well except the joke that is the Washington Capitals' franchise (1-7 all-time against the Penguins in the playoffs), this series was one for the ages.
The superstars lived up to their respective billings.
Tempers flared, emotions ran rampant, great goals were scored and spectacular saves were made.
But most importantly, the Red just got ROCKED!
Let's Go Pens.
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