It's a familiar scenario. The Red Wings and Ducks in a nail-biting series, tied 2-2. A one goal Red Wings win in Game 1. A Ducks overtime win in Game 2. A narrow Ducks win and a Red Wings blowout in Anaheim. A pivotal Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena scheduled for a Sunday afternoon. For Wings' fans, this is one of those horror story games that we wake up in the middle of the night yelling incoherently about. For 59 minutes, the Red Wings controlled that game on May 20, 2007. And for all that, they earned precisely one goal. And in the final minute, the above happened - the Ducks got the luckiest of lucky bounces. That rat bastard Scott Niedermayer got it in the slot, and was off balance and hacked at it. He was falling down, so it's hard to tell if he was shooting it or trying to pass it to Andy McDonald at the side of the net, but regardless, Nicklas Lidstrom did what great defensemen are taught to do - block the puck from reaching where the shooter/passer wants it to go. So he lowered his stick toward the ice to block it. And it inexplicably fluttered upward, and it sort of...floated...through the air, and somehow Hasek was caught offguard. I don't know if it was just his reflexes, which were abysmal at this point in his career, or if the deflection just sort of threw everything sideways. But whatever it was, it fluttered over Hasek's left shoulder and into the net. That rat bastard was so discombobulated that he fell back down while celebrating the most inexplicable of goals.
Start at about 2:55:
And listen to the crowd. Normally the crowd gets really quiet when the opposition scores, like any usual crowd at any venue in any sport. But here, it sounds like everybody's screaming in horror because they can't believe what they just witnessed, it was so out of nowhere and terrifying.
If you play the video to the end, you obviously see how that abortion ended. Lilja, who a friend of mine has never forgiven and has, since that godforsaken day, called him LOLja, gives it away, Selanne goes forehand-backhand-water bottle, the Ducks lead 3-2 and finish the Wings in six. Me? I didn't even see it live. I was so shaken by the Niedermayer goal, I left. I had seen that movie before; I knew how it ended. So I went out and mowed the damn lawn. I HATE mowing the lawn, and that day there wasn't enough grass to cut, not enough to keep me out there for hours like I wanted.
So, two years later, here we are. Ducks and Red Wings, two games apiece, Game 5 in Detroit on a Sunday afternoon. I can honestly say I want to beat the Ducks worse than I ever wanted to beat the Avalanche. That's probably just me, and I can understand how some might find that a bit extreme, but whatever. I ache for the closeout game against these thugs. Pronger's a neanderthal on skates and a genuinely detestable human being. Perry's an elbow thrower and he hits players in scrums as he's backpeddeling because he's a bitch. The Niedermayer sisters are weepy little girls. Getslapped just irritates the shit out of me. Carlyle learned from Brian Burke well, he has the practice of crying and bitching to the press down to an art form. Wisniewski too.
I said before Game 1 that I wanted the Ducks and I got the Ducks and that it was time for the Ducks to pay the debt they've incurred. The last nine days and four games have done nothing but increase that debt. All the things I hate about that fucking team have been there. They've run the goalie and cried to the media about how we run the goalie. They've mugged and harassed our players after the whistle and then accuse the Red Wings of instigating. They sent an insignficant goon into the game to take a shot at the smallest player on the roster, and then have the audacity to accuse one of our players of a dirty hit on an already-injured man of theirs. And, perhaps worst of all, they won a game under false pretenses. Game 3 is going to stick with all Red Wing fans. It's just a matter of whether it sticks with us like Game 5 against Pittsburgh stuck with us (an irritant, but ultimately irrelevant), or whether it's another one of those horror games we look back on.
I firmly believe that the Red Wings solved Hiller and the Ducks Thursday night. After the wretched start, when Babcock changed the lines, it was lights out. The Ducks were begging off at the end. They didn't belong on the same ice. The chemistry between Datsyuk and Zetterberg was there like it never left. Two of the best defensive forwards on the ice to hound Getslapped and Perry the Fairy and still have enough juice to control play in the offensive end? Bingo. And then the Franzen-Filppula-Hossa line. Yeah, good luck defending that with Todd Marchant and Scott Niedermayer's wife Rob. Didn't work Thursday, it's not going to work now. The depth advantage we all crowed about before the series started was out in spades at Honda Center in Game 4. And it's going to be there at Joe Louis Arena around 5:00 today.
There's blood in the water now. Duck blood.