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The Breakaway: Unfamiliar foes

by Shawn P. Roarke

* How great is it that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings haven't met in two years? There should be a little unfamiliarity between the Stanley Cup finalists.
* That first-overall pick expended on Marc-Andre Fleury sure looks good right about now, doesn't it?

* While celebrating the renaissance of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the job that GM Ray Shero has done, let's not forget that Craig Patrick was the GM that put a good portion of the puzzle together.

* Is anybody as surprised as CTN to see Sergei Gonchar play so well in his own end? He is close to dominant at times, something that has not been a trademark, shall we say, at other times in his career.

* CTN can't wait to visit the Steel City, just so the dot com boys can hit the Church Brew Works for an off-day dinner. It is one of the best brew pubs CTN has ever had the pleasure of visiting.

* If you are a hockey fan, you have to be pulling a little for Darryl Sydor, no matter your team loyalties. Sydor is one of the true good guys in the game and has handled his demotion to a healthy scratch throughout these playoffs with model humility.

* For that same reason, you also have to be pulling a bit for Dallas Drake, who is playing in the first Final of his long and distinguished career

* The Red Wings just can't seem to get away from the Shawn Matthias trade they made last year to get Todd Bertuzzi for a playoff run. Matthias, traded to Florida, is leading a Belleville team in the Memorial Cup. He had two goals against Gatineau after missing almost all of the postseason with mono.

* On average, the Penguins are three inches taller and 13 pounds heavier per man. CTN doesn't believe that disparity will play out on the ice, though.

* Here's one reason why: Pavel Datsyuk, all 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, leads Detroit in hits during these playoffs.  

* It'll be interesting to see how the Penguins play from behind. It is not something they have had to do much of this postseason, trailing just 13 percent of the time in the first three rounds.

* CTN will spend some of his time in Detroit looking for Kid Rock. He's a huge Red Wings fan and hopefully he'll be at "The Joe" to pump the boys up.

* Lou Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison this week. And, despite common conjecture it was not for being the creator of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. Rather it was for a laundry list of financial crimes.

* Congrats to Kristi Yamaguchi, who won this season's Dancing with the Stars competition. Yamaguchi is the wife of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican, in case you didn't know.

* How old is Chris Chelios? Try these facts on for size. At 46, he is older than Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien. He also began playing NHL hockey 12 days before teammate Valtteri Filppula was even born.

Dan Cleary is the first Newfoundlander to play in the Stanley Cup Final. Cleary video
* CTN would love to be on George Street in St. John's, Newfoundland, for a game of this Stanley Cup Final. The locals will be in full throat cheering on local boy done good Dan Cleary, the first Newfoundlander to play in the Stanley Cup Final in more than 40 years.

* Alex Faulkner, who played in the '63 and '64 Final series, also with Detroit, is the only other Newfoundlander to play in the Final.

* CTN already has Greg Iles' latest book, True Evil, already packed away for all the traveling surrounding the Stanley Cup Final. His stuff is usually eminently readable.

* Speaking of eminently readable stuff, John Sanford has a new book out as well. It's called Invisible Prey and it features detective Lucas Davenport, one of the best characters in any crime series. It doesn't hurt that Davenport played hockey in his youth and it is referenced often in his character development..

* The Boston Bruins helped themselves immensely for next season by re-signing Aaron Ward. The veteran defenseman is as valuable in the room for the Bruins as he is on the ice.

* The miracle run being enjoyed by the Toronto Marlies in the AHL playoffs may soon be coming to end. The Marlies are down three-games-to-none in the semifinal against Chicago.

* Gatineau forward Claude Giroux had 51 points in 19 QMJHL playoff games. He had just two points in three Memorial Cup games. Perhaps there is some truth to the fact that the WHL and OHL play stiffer defense than those teams in the QMJHL.

* Or, perhaps, Giroux's wrist injury is worse than reported. Obviously, the Flyers – who own Giroux's rights – hope it was nothing more than an ill-timed slump.

* Congrats to Team Russia on winning gold at the World Championships. The team showed its pedigree by overcoming a 4-2 deficit and silencing the home crowd in Quebec. Plus, the new guard among the Russian stars made this team a far more interesting and emotional story than past editions of Team Russia.  


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