Quick & Random Observations About the Most Dynamic, Dramatic, and Memorable Round of Hockey in Detroit Since the Spring of 1997:
— Hank Zetterberg: The joy on his face at the end of Game Six made the game-long tension worthwhile and beyond sweet. The Red Wings’ first goal was a thing of classic hockey beauty. The skating and speed of the quick-turning Filppula … resulting in the pass back to Kronwall … led to the masterful tip by Zetterberg about 10-12 feet outside the net. If you noticed, Zetterberg wasted no time lining up for a rather quick face-off following that tying goal … because he surely must have feared league officials reviewing the height of his stick when he made contact with the puck. Normally, play would have been stopped to take that measurement; but the noise and excitement in the JLA, and doubt as to whether Kronwall’s shot had been tipped or not, confused the issue momentarily. Mickey Redmond noticed the odd moment and lack of pause in his TV commentary, but also — like Zetterberg — wisely let the moment slide. I’m not saying it WAS a high stick, but it was at least questionable — close, chest high — and Zetterberg knew it. “Z” was masterful Tuesday night; he continues to impress with his smart and gutsy play.
— Valtteri Filppula: Finally, the Wings’ second level of talent steps up to steer a crucial game our way. Filppula skated Tuesday night like his suspenders were on fire. He deserved an assist on his own goal, the go-ahead beauty … a goal that shook The Joe much like it rocked on the night that Darren McCarty danced across the crease of the Philadelphia Flyers in the Cup Final of 1997. Fil’s stop-and-turn in the Sharks’ end, and the sweet pass to Kronwall, was remindful of Datsyuk at his best. Speaking of which:
— Pavel Datsyuk: All hail St. Pav. Game 6 looked like the high point in a career of high points. He played like the hockey genius he is; and even roughed it up with the Sharks’ dumb guys when they thought they could take him off his game with continuous post-whistle muggings. Even if the Wings don’t win this Series, Datsyuk has been simply phenomenal, earning himself an all-time rank in the annals of Red Wings history.
— Nik Kronwall: Looking for a some-day successor to Lidstrom? Kronwall has done it all this series, and his hit on Heatley early in the series continues to haunt the Sharks. They’ve chased Kronwall all over the ice, knocking themselves off their game, trying to get even. Their ridiculous — and dumbass macho — head-hunting led to the loss of power forward Ryane Clowe, who missed Game 6 with a mysterious “upper body injury” (that must be where he keeps his hurt feelings) after Kronwall exploded into him in Game 5. Clowe vowed revenge on Kronwall all weekend. Kronwall starred in Game 6, at both ends of the ice, while Clowe was too pained to even dress for the game. It is to laugh.
— Patrick Marleau: The Sharks forward remains scoreless in the series, which prompted Versus analyst and former player Jeremy Roenick to label him “gutless” after Game 5. It was a silly reach by Roenick, an attempt to impress his TV producers with a controversial and news-making remark. It is absurd to call ANY professional hockey player “gutless.”
— Joe Thornton: The Sharks captain is gutless. Outplayed, as usual, by Zetterberg Tuesday night, he took the opportunity in the scrum at the end of the game to land a two-handed wallop with his stick on the back of Z’s leg as the Red Wing leader lay defenseless on the ice (similar to a cowardly spear on Zetterberg by Pittsburgh‘s Cindy Crosby back in 2008 after a Cup game had ended). Thornton could have knocked Zetterberg (who’s about five inches and 50 pounds smaller) out of the playoffs, or even risked his NHL career with his cowardly strike. What a dope. Check that: What a large and gutless dope.
— Ryane Clowe: Another gutless wonder. His frustration over Kronwall’s clean hit on Heatley led him to jump a surprised Abdelkader, and attempt to pound his face into a veal cutlet, after Game 4 … announcing Kronwall would be “next.” Because of his stupidity, Clowe — the Sharks best all-round forward until he lost what there was of his mind — suffered his mysterious “upper body injury” after Kronwall made him look foolish with another atomic body-check. Or … maybe Ryane Clowe strained his back as a result of having to carry an over-abundance of ‘Es’ around in his first and last name. Could be. I have two in my last name, and I’m not feeling so hot myself.
— Justin Abdelkader: Somebody in the Wings’ organization needs to give this guy a saliva test … and some coaching. In his last three playoff games, the otherwise hard-working and valuable forward has taken the three dumbest penalties in recent Red Wings playoff history. Did he attend “Joe Thornton’s Summer Hockey School” with Clowe?
— Jimmy Howard: The Red Wings have not had to DEPEND on a goalie to get them through a playoff grind since Roger Crozier (who won the playoff MVP trophy in a losing effort) back in 1966 against Montreal. Howard, like Datsyuk, has been superb, strong, surprising, and continually astounding. The right guy at the right time.
— Nitwit Predictors: If anybody predicted the course of this Wings-Sharks series … no, wait … nobody COULD have predicted this amazing round. We’ve been lucky to have witnessed it, and should hate to see it end. How ‘bout making it the best of 14? The astonishing level of play has driven dumb guys like myself to make ridiculous predictions. Proving that I don’t know a hockey puck from a galosh, I told my friends on Monday and Tuesday that the Red Wings simply could not … NOT … win Game 6. I absolutely guaranteed it.
— Me: Here’s an urgent message to my friends: The Red Wings can not … NOT … win Game 7. I absolutely guarantee it.