I’m sitting in the Georgetown, a local sports pub, watching the game.
Sydney Crosby scored the first goal of the game a couple of minutes ago: it’s 1-0, Penguins. A typical Crosby goal: i.e., from the side of the net.
On the very next shift, the Pens won the faceoff at centre ice, carried the puck into the Capitals’ zone, and scored again to make it 2-0. We’re about two thirds of the way through the first (20 minute) period.
About one minute later, Varlamov (the Washington goalie) made a terrific pad save — otherwise, this game might be all sewn up.
The Penguins carried the play through the rest of the first period. Varlamov is doing his job: i.e., he has kept the Pens from scoring a goal that would almost certainly put the game out of reach.
You never know what you’re going to get in a game 7. The series has gone to overtime in three games out of six, and two other games were also decided by a single goal. By rights, this ought to be a close game. But sometimes one team is just out of gas, and you end up with a blowout.
Don Cherry is dressed downright sedately tonight! Sedately for him, that is, with a Boston Bruins tie and a gold suit jacket. (Cherry was the Boston Bruins coach, decades ago; the Bruins colours are black and gold; and the Bruins are in a game 7 of their own tomorrow night.)
On Saturday night, Cherry wore a white suit jacket, covered in very large, brightly-coloured flowers. Essentially a tacky slip cover for a couch (Canadians might say a chesterfield). I’m not exaggerating: Cherry buys the cloth at Fabricland and has his suits tailor made.
The Georgetown is buzzing with hockey fans (and their girlfriends, although some of them may be hockey fans, too). I’m disappointed by the beer selection, though. On Saturday, the Georgetown had Old Speckled Hen (a British import) on tap. Tonight, I had to settle for Moosehead. A Canadian beer, which is nice, but I prefer ales to lagers.
Oh, oh: Pittsburgh opened the second period by stealing the puck at their own blue line, and racing down the ice to score a goal. Bill Guerin got it: a veteran who is showing the poise and savvy his coach would hope for.
Varlamov probably should have made the save — and now he has let in a fourth goal. On a first look, Varlamov should have made the save on that fourth goal, too; but on the replay, it was a blazing slapshot to the top corner of the net.
Regardless, Washington’s coach has just switched goalies — a desperation ploy.
If we were in Montreal, the fans would be singing, “Nah nah nah nah /Nah nah nah nah / Hey hey hey / Goodbye.”
And now it’s 5-0. A nice goal by Jordan Staal, who carried the puck in behind the icing line, passed it behind the net to a teammate, slipped out front of the net, received the return pass, and fired it past Theodore (the replacement goalie).
Looks like the desperation ploy failed to pay off. But then, it was a very long shot.
Ninety seconds or so left in the second period, and Washington just caught their first break. Fleury (the Pens’ goalie) came out of his net to play the puck, and gave it away — to Ovechkin, of all people! Ovechkin quickly pulled the puck around in front of the empty net (if I was a real sports writer, I would say yawning cage) and scored a goal.
Ovie isn’t celebrating, though: he looks like he wants to kill someone.
The Capitals are a thoroughly demoralized bunch. This is a job for the Sigmund Freud of sports psychologists.
I was pulling for the Capitals, just a little. Trust me to pick the losing side every time — maybe that’s why the Gospels appeal to me!
Varlamov, who had such a tough night, is a sentimental favourite of mine. He was trying to repeat Ken Dryden’s extraordinary feat.
Dryden played his first seven games at the NHL level at the tail end of the 1970-71 season. Then the Canadiens started him in goal in the playoffs, and he led them to an unexpected Stanley Cup victory. Dryden won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. The next year, he was still considered a rookie, because he had played so few regular season games in ’70-71.
This year, Varlamov played five or six games in the regular season, then replaced Theodore in the second game of the playoffs. He has played very well most nights, and he’s a big part of the reason Washington made it this far.
But now … the Cinderella tale has come unravelled. Dryden is still a unique figure in hockey history: the only player to win the Conn Smythe trophy before his rookie season.
Crosby just stole the puck (from Ovechkin) at the Pens’ blue line, skated away on a breakaway, and scored the Pens’ sixth goal.
You have to admire Crosby. He’s not a big man, and he takes a lot of punishment in between goals. In this instance, he took a high stick across the mouth about a minute earlier — and it looked quite intentional. But he made the Caps pay on the score sheet. I know that Crosby whines a lot. But I’d whine too, if guys much bigger than me kept slapping me across the head with their hockey sticks.
It’s over for the Caps, folks. Sometimes it’s over even before the fat lady sings. Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over til it’s over” — but he’d be wrong, tonight.
Never mind that the Caps just scored their second goal.
Final score: 6-2.
(1) The Georgetown has good, spicey nachos. That’s reason enough to return.
(2) Canadian breweries mostly produce lagers. But if you ever find yourself in Manitoba, look for a pub that has the Fort Garry dark ale on tap. It’s excellent!
(3) Crosby finished the game with two goals and an assist.