Overtime Blues: Red Wings, Penguins Game Five

Matt ShieldsCorrespondent IJune 3, 2008

OK, I have no time for this sports-writing luxury this week. Really. I'm the in the middle of a new script, and when the muse grabs you — look out everything else.

Rhonda sometimes asks, "What would you do if you had kids?"  And I think, "Be a very bad dad."

Or, go back to a real job, coupled with night-shifts at the mini-mart and weekends mowing neighbor's lawns (my brother goes that route).

But let's talk hockey.

Last night's Game Five of the Stanley Cup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins is the reason I put aside the screenplay for the day —and it's not because I want to rant about what a great game it was.

It's because I hate overtimes. Hate them in football, hate them in hockey.

Even if my team wins.

If the the other team scores late to tie a game, or take the lead, there is almost always enough time for another try by the opposing team, unless it literally is during the final two seconds.

Even when Pittsburgh tied it up last night with just over 30 seconds left in the third, both teams still had a chance to end it. The possibility and the excitement were there.

But when you score in overtime...That's it. Done deal.

Even if it's a garbage goal — you, the fan, have to suck it up and turn off the TV, or pre-start your car so it'll be warm by the time you make it through the crowds to the lot.

"But what if your team wins?" you ask.

Fine. I feel you. But wouldn't you rather have it be during regulation play? 

When you don't have to grit your teeth worrying about the terror of slop? 

Of bouncing pucks, or defenders skates kicking them in? Or, heaven forbid,  that one moment you're sent to investigate the crashing sound in the next room and the game is over before your Superman-like return to the TV, with absolutely zero chance of a comeback for your team?

A shoot-out at least gives a team the chance to even things up.

What could be worse? I know. Watching an overtime power-play goal.

As both the Red Wings and the Penguins tried to grind through three extra periods there was plenty of tired, sloppy play. Plenty of uncalled "obstruction" penalties.

Grabs, clutches, hooks, and interference abounded on both sides, and for the most part the referees let them play (It's not for me to address the goaltender interference calls last night. Goaltender interference obviously needs to be discussed by some "think-tank" in Berkeley).

And with this exhaustion came Jiri Hudler's stick to Rob Scuderi's face. Drawing blood and a four-minute penalty. Not to say it wasn't the right call.  But it didn't make for exciting hockey.

By period three of OT, a power-play goal is highly likely.

The game is over. The Cup returned to its crate. And I am disappointed.

Not because the Red Wings lost — well yes, that too — but I am disappointed because they couldn't finish this in regulation.

I have stayed awake way past my bedtime (I'm on the East Coast) to wait and see which team gets the first lucky bounce, or power play.

I actually mulled over wanting the Penguins to win last night, because a Red Wing win would mean I'd have to stay up an extra hour watching the cup skating around the rink, interviews, and general fan jubilation.

If I was a player, that wouldn't be a problem. As a player, if I stayed up all night pouring champagne over my head, it's not like I'd have to worry about stumbling into my cubicle, or keeping my fingers out of some grinder the next morning.

But I'm not a player. I'm a fan who wants to see them get it done in regulation, so I can try and get some sleep before tomorrow comes.

See you in Pittsburgh on Wednesday!