Tonight the Stanley Cup Finals heads to a (hopefully) thrilling conclusion. I grew up in Michigan so I'll be pulling for the Wings, but more than that I'm rooting for an epic Game 7--dare I hope for OVERTIME? I'd love to see sudden death where a single shot could decide a major professional sports championship.
The series has been a lot of fun to watch. Before it started I wondered if the Penguins had matured enough to give the Wings a better fight than one year ago. But other than their lousy Game 5 performance they have been very competitive.
Typically in a Wings playoff series Detroit piles up the advantage in shots and scoring chances. They play the odds and figure if they put way more shots on your goalie they will win most nights (and they're right about that). The Penguins have keep the series shot differential pretty close. To their credit the Penguins have done what many teams can't--they can generate pressure while matched up against Detroit's puck possession game. They have also been helped by a Lidstrom injury to the family jewels that was severe enough to keep him out of two playoff games (not a good thought).
Speaking of defensemen--I play the position myself in the local hockey leagues--I have to admire Rob Scurderi's game saving effort at the end of Game 6. Here is a player who has been a borderline NHL player for most of his career. He's either enjoying a career year or he has taken a big step forward this season. His team reaches the Finals and they must force win Game 6 to stay live. With a one goal lead--time expiring and the goalie out of the net, he makes three saves in rapid succession--stick save, glove save and skate save to preserve the win. Rob Scurderi just lived every defensive defenseman's Stanley Cup fantasy--he single-handedly forced Game 7--wow!
Finally a note about upcoming posts. While it appears that I've been slacking all week, the truth is I'm working on a multi-part series on "How Atlanta Can Build a Cup Contender" which will start this weekend. After that we have a week's worth of material in the run up to the NHL Draft and then another short week until the start of Free Agency on July 1st. So basically I took a week off before things get hot and heavy.