Making a point is often about so much more than scoring.
Daniel Briere and Chris Pronger both had two-goal, three-point games in crucial Game 3 wins for their teams, but their contributions went well beyond bending twine.
Even when Briere is dominating a game with his skill, it’s hard for him not to look like a boy playing a man’s game. It just sort of goes with the territory when you’re undersized and have no use for a razor.
But in addition to his offensive outburst, Briere showed the kind of moxie that puts you in good standing with Philly sports fans. He got in the face of Washington goalie Cristobal Huet; he fought hard in corners. When the smallest, most skilled guy on your team is gnashing his teeth, it gets everybody going.
Meanwhile, in Big D, it felt like Pronger officially earned the captaincy of the Ducks.
The notorious bruiser inherited the ‘C’ from Scott Niedermayer when the latter decided his season needed to include a little more “off” in it.
Pronger sure acted like the Ducks’ true leader during Anaheim’s had-to-have-it victory over Dallas. With their feathers firmly up against the wall, the big defenseman’s play paced a team many had given up for dead.
Some games a team needs the speed of its swiftest player to light the way; other times it needs its goalie to be a wall. Pronger, who fuses talent and ill temper like few players ever have, delivered on a night his squad needed every facet of his game to be firing.
Last year’s champs are still in the hunt because they took their cues from this year’s captain.
How good does Montreal GM Bob Gainey’s decision to jettison Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline look now?
The move obviously paid dividends for Washington and was worth a second-rounder merely for the fact Huet was instrumental in the Caps reaching the playoffs. But it was hard for a channel surfer to miss the fact that mere minutes after Carey Price blanked the Bruins for his first post-season shutout, Huet couldn’t come up with a crucial save on Mike Richards’ penalty shot to keep his team one shot away from overtime.
Huet isn’t hurting the Caps, but there’s little doubt at this juncture that Gainey’s assessment of Price’s abilities was right on the money.
MIKE, MEET MILAN
I think it’s fair to say a rivalry within a rivalry is born.
Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek and Boston left winger Milan Lucic are injecting new animosity into an Original Six hate.
Both are big boys who enjoy taking anybody in the opposite uniform into the boards, but seem to extract extra pleasure from hammering each other every opportunity they get.
Lucic even decided to take some time out during Game 4 to get right in Komisarek’s face and ask him whether the boards in Boston give enough or if the arena staff should increase the flexibility.
This feud not only fuels one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries, but also could play out on the international stage. Komisarek, an American, is a sure bet to man Team USA’s blueline at the 2010 Olympics to be held in Lucic’s hometown of Vancouver.
Lucic, who blogs for THN.com, is anything but a sure bet to represent Canada at the next Olympics, but the Bruin banger – still only 19 years old – will almost surely develop into the kind of power forward who gets you 30 goals a year and hits everything that moves.
My suspicion is Team Canada will be happy to have a force like that come 2014.
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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