And so we come to it then: Alexander Ovechkin and Sydney Crosby in a fight to the death, in a winner-take-all final game that will put a tidy little bow on a package that has done nothing but deliver. It hasn’t been the perfectly played series, and therein lies its charm.
In almost every game the Capitals have come out flat. To my untrained eye it looks like the game only begins in the second period for these young players. Consequently, it is shocking that the Penguins haven’t buried their foe. At one point in the first period last night, the Pens had out-shot the Caps 17-3, in a game the Caps couldn’t lose, yet they were able to tuck their tail between their legs and head to the dressing room only down by one goal.
Oh, and it wasn’t due to Simeon Varlamov standing on his head. No. I found myself wondering why they hadn’t gone to José Théodore for this game. After impressing in his first few games, probably due to his opponents’ unfamiliarity with his flaws, the kid has shown to be most vulnerable in many aspects. Most glaring is his glove side, which is non-existent. He looks so bad on some shots that you wonder if he’s got his mitt on the wrong hand. The reason the Pens weren’t up by at least three after the first is they failed to press their advantage.
Thankfully the energy level picked up in the second period and despite not being a gem like Saturday’s game 5 (a game in which I turned to my 19 year-old brother and said: “I haven’t seen hockey this good in 10-15 years – and you never have”), it finally felt like a deciding game. Crosby had his best game of the series in my opinion, always buzzing around à-la-Ovechkin, and Ovechkin was more subdued but still dominated the scoresheet with three assists. Kind of a role-reversal. Overtime was, as it has been for most of these playoffs, a short affair. Ideally it would be a little longer: somewhere between the triple OT snooze-fest between Detroit and Anaheim and the 12 seconds it took Martin Havlat to dispose of Calgary.
I thought the Penguins deserved to win on the night, but I won’t complain about this series being extended to its limit. Can they give us overtime in Game 7? Something tells me they would have it no other way…
I’d like to end with a rant about periphery stuff in this series. I have to ask the question of the Penguins PR department: what is up with the Pittsburgh white-out? Do you not realize that the opposing team is wearing white? Do you not want your fans to look like they’re supporting your team? What a bonehead move. Meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but aggravating nonetheless. What REALLY gets under my skin, though, is the Washington PA guy who sounds like the Tazmanian Devil and the insistence on burying crowd noise after every home goal with an incessent torrent of cop sirens. Come now, DC: no need to make the inside of your arena sound like the outside. All wisecracks aside, Washington currently has the loudest fans in the league – why not let them be the illustration of the city’s exuberance rather than a canned sound-effect cranked to 11 by some overreaching PR guy? Right, this is North America, where crowd noise is frowned upon.