I’ve been a part of many Game 7s during my 25 years of broadcasting in the NHL, but his one had everything: great goaltending, 5-on-3 power-play opportunities on both sides, after--the-whistle scrums, controversial non-calls, a loud and enthusiastic capacity crowd and two elite teams giving absolutely everything they had.
It was the seventh Game 7 in the history of Joe Louis Arena. The previous one was seven years ago. The score of that one was 7-0 for Detroit.
Are you sensing a pattern?
The first guy I ran into at the morning skate prior to Game 7 was Ted Lindsay. His number 7 hangs from the rafters at the Joe along with other Red Wings greats who have had their numbers retired. As it turned out, there were seven goals scored in this Game 7 as Detroit held on to win 4-3.
The Anaheim Ducks deserve a lot of credit for the way they played down the stretch and into the playoffs. General Manager Bob Murray made several moves prior to the trade deadline that seemed to be more long-term in nature. Two-thirds of the vaunted checking line from the 2007 Stanley Cup run had been traded with Travis Moen going to San Jose and Sammy Pahlsson to Chicago. Chris Kunitz was dealt to Pittsburgh. It wasn’t that the Ducks didn’t get quality in return, it just seemed at first glance that this team was too different from that ’07 team to be a Cup contender again so soon. Boy, was I wrong to make that assumption.
This Ducks team had enough of the core championship guys still in the locker room to help the new guys understand what it took to win. They got into the Western Conference playoffs as the eighth seed, but it was apparent before the playoffs started that this Anaheim team was going to be a force. Just ask the President’s Trophy winning San Jose Sharks.
|Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf (right) tries to find a teammate while being defended by Detroit's Valtteri Filppula. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza) |
And for those of you who are fixated on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin as far and away the best players in the NHL, pay a little more attention to Ryan Getzlaf. He is something special. He will be an integral part of the Ducks going forward and he will be an important part of Team Canada at the the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
As far as the Detroit Red Wings, it’s hard to know where to start when evaluating this franchise and team. They were a great pre-lockout team and they have been even more formidable under the new rules post-lockout. Consider the fact that the Wings eliminated the Ducks in a grueling seven-game series without Pavel Datsyuk scoring a goal. Marian Hossa had just two goals - both came in a three-minute span in Game 4. What other team could prevail with such limited production from two of its best offensive players? Look at the names of the players who scored for the Wings in Game 7: Hudler, Helm, Samuelsson and Cleary. Talk about depth.
I just read a column online that compared this Detroit team to the old Red Army teams of the Soviet Union. I remember making those comparisons over 10 years ago when the Wings were the first NHL team to have five Russian players on the ice at the same time.
It might be more appropriate to compare this team to the “Swiss Army” - as in the Swiss Army knife. You know, that handy all-in-one tool that has something for every situation. That’s what this Detroit team has - something for every situation. And they needed everything they had to get by the Anaheim Ducks.
|The Detroit Red Wings next play Chicago in the Western Conference Finals. |
Now it’s on to the conference finals with Pittsburgh and Carolina meeting in the East while Detroit and Chicago will go at it in the West. My broadcast duties are over for now. I’ve had a great run for two rounds on Versus. Let me say that it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the people at Versus. I know there’s still some critics out there who long for the days of ESPN covering the NHL, but let me remind you that most of the people working the NHL on Versus are former ESPN hockey people. This includes on-air talent, production personnel, technicians and management. We all share a tremendous passion for the NHL and we are committed to bringing the best possible product into your homes. I hope you’ve enjoyed the telecasts.
I’ll be back with my next edition of Tell-Us-Strader during the conference finals.