|Posted by Radatz on May 26, 2017 at 12:00 AM||comments (4)|
And here we are. Game 7 in all its agony. Period by period.
The first period was even scorewise and might have belonged to Ottawa shotwise if Ottawa could figure out how to get off a shot, but largely it was more of Pittsburgh winning 1-on-1 battles, picking pucks off the boards and reacting faster to loose pucks. Ottawa seems nearly incapable of clearing its own zone, sending more passes to the point than the Pitt forwards do. But they escaped without falling behind, which may have been their strategy. Or not. What would period 2 bring? It's been a one-sided frame in many playoff games.
Through most of the first half of the 2nd it wasn't uneven at all, with Ottawa actually generating chances. Except for one ominous flurry from Pittsburgh play was fairly even, but you got the uncomfortable feeling that Pitt was playing hockey while Ottawa was playing pinball. The most effective Senator was Anderson, and it was clear that Pitt was overplaying everything because Ottawa couldn't seem to take advantage. Then they began to look for open men (who were actually skating) and started crashing the zone a bit. It wasn't sustainable, but it was something. But finally the inevitable happened; Ottawa couldn't hold the point and Pitt got a 2-on-1 close in. 1-0. Here it comes. Then an incredible 20 seconds later, at the end of their first smart-looking end-to-end rush, Stone scored to tie it. Hey Ottawa, try that when you're not behind --- just might work. Ottawa couldn't make hay out of a power play, and the period ended with each team getting a great breakin, one after the other. Ottawa had an in-alone when the stick mysteriously became unable to stay on the ice. No call; would have been a penalty shot. Then Pitt looked set up when a great hip check separated the puck and the stick from the player and the period ended --- yup --- in a tie. Is this what Ottawa wanted? Can't be what Pitt had chalked up.
The third got halfway through tied with the emphasis slowly but surely tilting toward the skating Penguins versus the passive Senators, and by the halfway point resembled a Pitt power play. Anderson was great, but then the hobbled Phaneuf took a shaky interference call on an impending icing and Pitt had a real power play. The reward came fast, and that was the old ball game. Or not. 6 1/2 minutes later, Dzingel tied it on Karlsson's rebound. Each team had chances after, the last good one coming on a takeaway by Ottawa that resulted in Ryan overpassing from 15' in front. He could have angled over and shot. Anderson continued to get pummeled and dazzle. And now, believe it or not... it was overtime. Shots at the end of regulation time were a suspiciously low 30-23 Pittsburgh. Sure seemed like more.
At zamboni time it was more of the same. The Senators had chances but overpassed their shots. They had pucks clean in their zone and couldn't clear. Pittsburgh seemed to own the boards. Yet it was still even. Dzingel had disappeared into the locker room. Ryan seemed obsessed with staying behind the net even when he had company. But Anderson held and It ended even with Pitt fans littering the ice, having seen a replay that looked like Pitt had scored. They hadn't, another angle showed the puck trickling along the top of the net, not the underside. Hard to believe they didn't show that angle in house. And on to the second overtime. Ottawa had dodged a too many men. Pitt got passes on several infractions. Pitt owned the shots 8-2, but Ottawa had 'passed' on several decent chances looking for the perfect play.
The second overtime was going oddly. Ottawa seemed to have the fresher legs, at least in spurts, and were largely dictating play. And then, barely 5 minutes in, Kunitz slapped a tumbling knuckleball high at the best goalie in the playoffs and he either didn't see it or it froze him. It was Pittsburgh's only shot of the overtime, the only period in which Ottawa outshot and outskated Pittsburgh. And just like that, Cinderella's gown went poof.
|Posted by Radatz on May 23, 2017 at 11:25 PM||comments (3)|
Did Ottawa's grand strategy of playing dead work and put Pittsburgh in a catatonic trance for game 6, or did Pitt's nose candy leave them all strung out?
Tonight it took a washed-off goal and a 5-on-3, but Ottawa did it. Analysts carped at the washoff, but it was clearly GI. Their reasons were otherworldly. Who ever got carte blanche to wrestle for the puck with a goalie in the crease for a good 5 seconds plus push him into the net so he couldn't reach the puck? They carped a bit about the penalty that led to the 5-on-3 (and it was tacky), but Crosby got away with butt-ending and Malkin tripped Hoffman into the boards so clearly you had to wonder what they were watching when it wasn't mentioned after 3 replays. Pitt still had a 1-0 lead in the 2nd and Ottawa didn't look able to generate the nerve to take a close-up shot, blowing chance after chance by overpassing or overwaiting. Finally, partway through the 2-man advantage, Ryan tied it. So, despite a 23-10 2nd period shot gap, Pitt skated off the ice in a tie game.
And in the 3rd Hoffman took revenge on Malkin with a great slap shot that proved to be the winner. Pittsburgh looked gassed compared to their suspiciously near-manic pace in game 5. I didn't catch any shots of them snorting up 'smelling salts' on the bench, but look for them to find an edge back home. They look too beatable at normal speed.
|Posted by Radatz on May 22, 2017 at 10:55 PM||comments (7)|
Clean as country water. Sort of.
Getzlaf came out flying and the Ducks did everything in the first period --- kill a major, dominate shot totals --- except score. Meanwhile, they managed to kick another one of those shallow flips at the net from the boards into their own goal, then leave a shooter open 20' in front of the net. Poor Bernier had given up 2 goals on the first 3 shots. Nashville would end the period down 12-4 on shots and up 2-0 in goals.
The second period opened like the first, with Anaheim in control. At 4:45 they scored and it was 2-1. And that was that, despite the Ducks running up a 14-4 shot ad. With 2/3 of the game played the Ducks had over 3/4 of the shots and the Preds had 2/3 of the goals. But how would Anaheim answer the bell in the must-win 3rd period? How do you improve on a 26-8 edge in shots?
Answer: you don't. You could smell it coming. Following another Rinne save after a faceoff in the zone, Nashville forced the puck unartfully behind Bernier and as two Duck defenders watched from close (as in a foot away), Aberg tried to stuff it in the corner and Bernier blocked it but couldn't cover. As Aberg kept hacking the puck got to Bernier's stick and he pushed it weakly outward. He may have been expecting some help from his two stalwarts, one of whom had been in the crease with him the whole time while the other, Thompson, was pasted to Aberg's back from behind the net throughout. He didn't get any despite the unnamed statue-like defender, still in the crease, having his forehand a foot from the puck, and Aberg made it 3-1 on his second official shot in the brief scrum. Then, two minutes later, Wagner put a similar shot past Rinne who'd looked a little shaky on the first shot that barely missed the post. 3-2 with 15 minutes left. Then at 8:52 Fowler made it 3-3 as once again a defender sabotaged his goalie. This time, Subban tripped Perry into Rinne who recovered but couldn't track the long shot. But at 14:00, Sissons hit the hat trick on a good pass and more slow defense and it was 4-3. Minutes later the Ducks pulled Bernier, lost the puck in the Nashville zone, and watched as the icing was risked on a lofted clear and split the uprights. 5-3 with 2:22 left in regulation. Then they pulled him again, lost the puck in neutral ice and watched the lamp light again.
And so, with the two empty-netters pushing the shot total to 41-18 (in favor of Anaheim), the scoreboard read 6-3 Nashville. Silly, but it happened. Rinne had a lot to do with it, but so did some defensive mistakes by Anaheim. And the Predators go to the finals for the first time where, in this blogger's premature opinion, they will be shelled off the ice by a Pittsburgh team that can not only score more fluidly than Anaheim but actually play defense too. And suck down foreign substances on the bench. Ottawa? Please.
|Posted by the immortal scurds on May 21, 2017 at 9:05 PM||comments (10)|
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who turns 40 in August, has reportedly suffered from multiple concussions — including one last year — his wife Gisele Bündchen said.
The 36-year-old supermodel dropped the bombshell claim on Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, telling co-host Charlie Rose that the sport is not healthy for her husband’s body.
“I just have to say, as a wife, I’m a little bit — as you know, it’s not the most, let’s say ‘unaggressive’ sport, right?” Bündchen said, when asked if she was trying to get Brady to retire. “Football, like he had a concussion last year. I mean, he has concussions pretty much every year — we don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions.”
“I don’t really think it’s a healthy thing for your body to go through that kind of aggression all the time,” she added. “That cannot be healthy for you, right? I mean, I’m planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things when we’re like 100, I hope!”
-lol. the league is scrambling to deny all reports of brady's concussions. to quote president trump "they did not have a good night that night. that i can tell you". is she deliberately trying to force retirement? get a new set of reigns, tom
|Posted by Radatz on May 21, 2017 at 5:55 PM||comments (2)|
Having nearly lulled Pittsburgh to sleep in Ottawa, the Senators took the logical next step by not only being skated off the ice but also welcoming a scoring barrage that adequately reflected the mismatch. Pittsburgh, aware that the old ennui might beckon any minute, snorted smelling salts throughout the game (that, or the 2017 version of Benzedrex inhalers) and skated like a pack of speed freaks. Meanwhile, Bouchet snickered wryly as that simply fed into Ottawa's grand strategy, which was clearly to let Pittsburgh do whatever it wanted. Deftly noting that Pittsburgh's shot advantage wasn't what it should have been, he pulled 4 or so of his best players to make sure nothing went wrong. Next time we'll find out whether smelling salts (?) are capable of thwarting complete lack of motivation due to total overconfidence. Ottawa's got 'em right where they want 'em.
|Posted by Radatz on May 20, 2017 at 10:25 PM||comments (1)|
Nashville's chances were widely dismissed following Johansen's injury, let alone Fisher's, but they played the Ducks even in Anaheim shotwise, skated better generally, and won anyway. Gibson stopped all 10 shots he faced and then disappeared with the dreaded arcane 'lower body injury', leaving Bernier in net. Bernier is a bit unorthodox but considering some of the pressure he wasn't bad. Just not good enough. Nashville looked no different than they usually do, but following their second goal halfway through the third period Anaheim downshifted to low gear and never came out of it, giving the impression (as they often do) that urgency was the farthest sense from their nervous system. Had it not been for an icing with 1:18 to go one wondered if Carlyle would ever pull Bernier. He did, but not before calling time out with Nashville stuck on the ice and the faceoff coming in the Predators' zone. The clincher came just as the Ducks appeared to have shaken off the doldrums enough to set up the 6-on-5 in the last minute and Silfverberg broke his stick (surprise). The Preds risked the icing on the long shot and scored. Rinne was good when he had to be, which wasn't often enough for Anaheim.
|Posted by Radatz on May 19, 2017 at 10:55 PM||comments (1)|
This game was a complete mismatch that nearly had an impossible ending. Following a bit of an opening flurry by Ottawa, the Senators weren't just outplayed. That happens. They were outcoached, outhustled, outfought, outskated, outpassed and outshot. It was a mismatch the sort of which you might see with Toe Blake's Canadiens playing a scrimmage squad of AHLers who'd never seen each other before. The Senators resembled stationary table-top hockey players. They won almost zero 1-on-1 battles. They made a generous plethora of power plays awarded to them by the Penguins look like a 2-man disadvantage. Once, during a rare spate of pressure, their own guy skated the puck to the blue line --- and past it, putting everybody but Anderson offside. It was that bad. True, Crosby's goal to make it 2-0 was a highly-overpraised fluke even from three feet, as Stalberg contested his shot and pushed a floater off the heel of his stick that found the only opening Anderson left with Crosby aiming stick-side high. But it was inevitable. How Pittsburgh managed to score only three goals through two periods was perplexing. That Ottawa made it 3-1 on a long-shot tip late in the 2nd was amazing. That they cut it to 3-2 with 5 minutes to go was astounding. That they came within a post of sending it to OT was unfathomable. That Pittsburgh drew not one but two too many men calls was ridiculous. And it was phantasmagoric that, in the end, Ottawa somehow had as many legit scoring opportunities as Pittsburgh. But then, so was the rest of this completely incongruous conference finals matchup.
The bottom line? If Ottawa should ever decide to skate again, they may win. Pittsburgh can't outskate Boston College any better than they outskated the Senators for most of this game, and they nearly lost anyway.
|Posted by Radatz on May 18, 2017 at 11:45 PM||comments (6)|
Pardon the Robert Crumb-esque title. I read it 5 decades ago and I still don't know what he meant. There're only so many clever hockey headlines you can think up that involve ducks.
The Ducks came out flying and ran up a 14-2 shot ad in the 1st stanza but left the ice with just a 1-0 lead. Nashville stormed back in the first half of the 2nd but didn't score and Anaheim recovered to nearly make it 3-0. Getzlaf, who never seems to do anything wrong, clanged the left post on one almost sure-thing but then Ritchie, who seems to have the most effective snap shot in the league, winged one past Rinne and they had to settle for 2-0 going to the 3rd.
It looked like it would hold up, but with 6 1/2 to go Subban, who had just sat out a penalty for a dirty elbow to Rakell, scored and made it 2-1. Rakell was a flash after the elbow but couldn't beat Rinne, hitting the right post on his own rebound. Then with an empty net, the officials missed a clear cross check behind the Duck net that resulted in the puck being centered and put home by Forsberg. It wasn't the only cross check on Nashville they passed on, and it would have been a lousy way to decide a game. With Gibson suddenly having allowed 2 goals in 3 shots some assumptions of disaster swept the booth, but Gibson stopped 3 shots in OT and was heavily shielded by his defense. Finally the unlikeliest shot of them all, a shallow-angle wrister from the boards by Perry, eluded Rinne and the series was tied.
|Posted by Radatz on May 17, 2017 at 11:00 PM||comments (2)|
How things dooo change. Well, sort of. Nobody saw this coming, I'll go out on a nice thick limb and say. In a basically even game shot-wise, Pittsburgh seemed to be more aggressive in the balance but Anderson stopped most of what they had to offer while Fleury let in 4 on the first 9 shots. It wasn't all his fault; most of those goals were either of the way-too-close variety or just good shots. But you can't fire the defense so in came Murray. Flurrymurry. Sorta got a ring to it. Murray was more effective but Ottawa wasn't as aggressive offensively in the 2nd. Pitt had most of the good chances but... when the second horn sounded only Ottawa had scored. The 3rd was garbage time as the Senators managed to neutralize any chance of a huge comeback. Is this a portent of things to come? So far in these playoffs nothing is a portent. Next game is a must for Pitt, that's for sure. Maybe for Ottawa too. Ottawa played its sometimes maddeningly rigid game plan and tonight it worked. How many times were you yelling JSTFP? The Sens held pucks way too long near the net again it seemed, as well as way too long on defense deep in their own zone. But it worked. Pittsburgh's freewheeling combos didn't. Not this night anyway.
|Posted by Radatz on May 17, 2017 at 12:05 AM||comments (3)|
"Preds rally" say the headlines, but they didn't really. They outshot Anaheim in each period, finishing with a moderately(?) convincing 40-20 shot discrepancy. The Ducks' problem was that once Nashville did score and tie the game early in the 3rd they still didn't exactly pepper the net. Any thought of the Roadducks sustaining momentum of their 5-1 finish two nights ago evaporated. Nothing said it better than Wagner's dumb penalty with under 4 minutes to go. It was followed almost at once by the go-ahead goal, and Anaheim spent the rest of regulation in a bizarre trance minus the slightest semblance of urgency. Their best production came defending an empty net. They spent at least half of the last minute lolling around in their own end waiting for line changes and, apparently, for the perfect play to develop in front of them, instead of desperately forcing play. Watching a defenseman sit motionless in his own zone with the clock ticking from maybe 15 seconds to zero waiting for something wonderful to happen was about all these eyes could stand. Nashville ain't Disneyland.