Darren McCarty and Detroit, Michigan are a perfect marriage of style and city.
They go together like stick and tape; goal and assist.
How sweet it was, then, to see McCarty bring the fans of Joe Louis Arena a little higher out of their seats than they’d usually get for a first-period goal when he swatted a loose puck past Dan Ellis.
Make no mistake, this is about more than nostalgia. The knock on Detroit since it last won the Cup in 2002 is that the Wings aren’t prickly enough come playoff time. To be honest, I thought last year’s run to the West final dispelled that notion to a large degree.
But if the Wings are going make a comeback – just as McCarty has in his own life – in terms of being a championship team, they’re going to need more greasy goals like the ones they got from McCarty in the opening frame and Kris Draper in the third.
Whacking in rebounds, bouncing pucks off opponents, that’s vintage Grind Line stuff and Detroit would be glad to get a few more servings of it as it tries to put away this pesky Nashville team.
Nothing against Tom, but…
If Montreal is going to turn out the lights on Boston – and the Beantowners don’t exactly look anxious to fade quietly into the night – the Canadiens team hierarchy better be restored quick.
Until the last play of Game 2, fourth-liner Tom Kostopoulos was having a better series than Alex Kovalev, the guy who’s induced chants of ‘MVP’ in recent weeks.
The slick Russian redeemed himself by scoring the overtime winner, but if his brain cramps (bad passes, missed breakaway, bonehead penalty) continue to outnumber his points, Montreal is in trouble.
Drop the Hamr
What do you like better, Roman The Hamrlik or Roman Hamr-layin’-liks?
Either way, the guy wearing No. 44 for the Canadiens is fast becoming a focal point on the team.
Forget his first-period goal – that could have been anyone’s shot muffed by Tim Thomas – Hamrlik’s true value lies in the fact he’s one of two Montreal blueliners, along with Mike Komisarek, who’s making Black and Gold players black and blue consistently.
The Canadiens have been called a lot of things this year and Hamrlik is doing his best to add “miserable to play against” to the list.
In the middle of things
I doubt very much Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle’s list of things to worry about on the eve of the playoffs included anything about Mike Ribeiro out-gutting Ryan Getzlaf.
But through two games, Ribeiro has a goal and five points while Getzlaf has posted one second assist. More troubling than that, from a Ducks’ perspective, is that Ribeiro has shown much more determination than Getzlaf, even getting physical on occasion with Anaheim defenders.
Compounding the Ducks’ issues is the fact after Getzlaf, there’s not much down the middle. Dallas, by contrast, can roll out Brad Richards and Mike Modano while Ribeiro is catching his breath on the bench.
The Stars’ pivot advantage has been pivotal in helping them push Anaheim to the brink.
Put a lid on it
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks have defeated the Dallas Stars in a hard-fought, seven-game series. The Stars had many shortcomings, but the determining factor in swinging victory Anaheim’s way was the fact Stars goalie Marty Turco couldn’t place his water bottle exactly where he wanted to on the net.
Could you imagine this sentence ever appearing in the morning newspaper? I realize goalies are superstitious by nature, but when an official has to lecture a goalie about putting the bottle in its holder – as was the case with Turco on Saturday night – it gets to be a bit much.
The holder is there because the bottle, if placed in certain locations, can obscure camera views required to determine if pucks cross the goal line, which, if you’ll recall, is what really decides the outcome of games.
I expect one unsportsmanlike conduct call would end the need for this ridiculous superstition in a hurry.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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