OTTAWA – Chris Neil was the big story for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
He was the most fearless Senator on the ice, the first guy to stand up for his teammates after Dean McAmmond was knocked loopy by another dirty Chris Pronger play and the first one to get a huge cheer after he scored Ottawa’s first goal of the night.
The evolution of Neil from full-on goon to game-changing presence has been a nice story to follow over the last couple years. If Saturday night was the peak of his career, it was a hell of a peak.
Â• Should Pronger be suspended for what he did to McAmmond? Absolutely Â– and for more than one game, too. His suspension in the Western Conference final certainly did not dissuade him from his apparent dislike of his opponents’ skulls.
Now, will he be suspended? Highly, highly doubtful. That lack of appropriate punishment will send a pathetic message to the rest of the players and force Ottawa to take matters into their own hands at the next opportunity. Is it any wonder these awful incidents are a regular occurrence?
Â• Yes, Ray Emery let in another shaky goal Saturday night. And yes, he can give away rebounds more juicy than Juicy Rebound Master Robert Esche. But when he batted the puck out of the air early in the third period to save what looked to be a sure goal, he gave the Sens the confidence to continue their attack in Anaheim’s end of the rink.
That’s the way Emery has played throughout the post-season. I don’t imagine it’s going to change the rest of the way.
Â• What the crowd outside and inside Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place lacked in ethnic diversity Â– and you thought Edmonton had the Â‘White Mile’ Â– they more than made up for in good-natured celebrations.
Everyone I ran into tempered their enthusiasm with civility and politesse.
Kudos to the lot of them.
As much as I hated Scott Stevens for how many players he laid out, he was a solid hitter who kept his elbows down. Unfortunately for Pronger he obviously doesn’t possess the same skills, class or respect. Two blatant elbows in the playoffs should have him out for the rest of the series, but hey, it was only Dean McAmmond, not Alfredsson or Heatly, right? If Soupy Campbell let’s this go without a suspension, then BettCo Inc. has successfully made the NHL a joke. Maybe they’ll stop laughing when it’s Crosby sliding into the corner flat on his back unconscious.
– Joe Willix