Allan Maki shares his opinion on the previous night's NHL action and looks at the early news of the day Monday through Friday during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It was a hockey game measured by numbers yet framed by so much more than its 94 shots on goal, 89 face-offs, 80 hits, 49 blocked shots and 11 power plays, all managed over 95 minutes of frantic playing time.
This was the Pittsburgh Penguins being Evgeni Malkin good and Matt Cooke nasty finally checking into the Eastern Conference Final only to find out it wasn't enough. Not against the Boston Bruins. Not this spring.
In the best game of these 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, Pittsburgh and Boston went at it sledgehammer and nail from Wednesday night on into Thursday morning Eastern Time. The two sides matched scoring tries and line rushes until the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, on a patented cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand, tipped in the 2-1 game winner late in the second overtime.
It was a vintage Bergeron-Marchand hook-up on a night/early morning filled with memorable moments. To name a few: 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr drawing an assist on the final goal; Malkin's multiple scoring bids; Tuukka Rask's rock-steady goaltending for Boston; and the Bruins' Gregory Campbell blocking a shot then desperately trying to block out the pain as he hobbled about the ice still determined to play his position.
That effort typified the Bruins and their 3-0 series lead over Pittsburgh. Certainly Campbell's grit was appreciated by his teammates.
"That block right there was Soupy (Campbell's nickname)," said Patrice Bergeron, whose first overtime goal this postseason, also set up by Marchand, eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7. "That's the way he is. He sacrifices his body for the better of the team. Obviously, we tried to rally behind that and do it for him because he's a big part of our team."
"What (Campbell) went through showed a lot of guts," added Bruins' head coach Claude Julien. "That's just the kind of player he is."
It's the kind of player all the Bruins have become; the kind of team Pittsburgh can't defeat because it doesn't have the same wrought-iron will, that something extra that exceptional teams can find when they need it the most.
The only thing the Penguins could offer in the wake of such an emotional loss was head coach Dan Bylsma's assessment it "was a hard-fought game, hard fought all over the ice. We threw a lot at them. We played exactly the way we wanted to play."
And still, they didn't win. That's how the Penguins' season may be measured. The Bruins? They're looking to add to their memorable moments, and just know that they will.
Sitting this one out
Chicago Blackhawks' coach Joel Quenneville said he "didn't want to go there" when asked Wednesday morning about the possibility of his top defenceman Duncan Keith being suspended. By mid-afternoon, Quenneville had no choice.
For stick whacking Los Angeles King Jeff Carter in the face – and sending him off for 20 stitches – Keith was suspended for Thursday's Game 4 at the Staples Center. The NHL's department of player safety said Keith's reaction to possibly being hand slashed by Carter was retaliatory and "not an accidental high stick." The league said that given Keith's history as a repeat offender, and that Carter had been injured, it was issuing a one-game ban, which is fine. What Keith did was dumb and dangerous. (See and hear the NHL's decision surrounding the suspension)
But trying to figure out how the NHL figures out what's a suspension, what's a fine and what's a warning is hockey's version of a fool's game. You go in uncertain, you come out disoriented.
This much Quenneville did address: Keith's loss will be a blow to the 'Hawks.
"Dunks is important in all areas," said Quenneville. "We talk about special teams, you talk about big minutes, you talk about how we defend, get activated on the back end. His leadership, his compete level. He's everything you want in a defenseman. He's very important."
It must be the playoffs because everyone's talking and no one's really saying much. In fact, we have a test for you. Read the following postseason quotes and pick the person you believe uttered those words.
" I felt bad … It was an accident."
a. Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith; b. Toronto mayor Rob Ford; c. Senator Mike Duffy; d. All of the above.
" If you didn't have good puck management, and if you don't get good puck management, you're going to run into trouble."
a. Fired coach John Tortorella; b. Fired coach Alain Vigneault; c. Fired goaltending coach Pierre Groulx; d. All of the above.
" We want to go out there and get our cycle working down low."
a. Lance Armstrong; b. Biogensis of America; c. Jose Canseco; d. All of the above.
" We're just going to play our game and finish off our opportunities when we get them."
a. Genghis Kahn; b. Bill Gates; c. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals; d. Every hockey player dating back to Dit Clapper.
" It is what it is."
a. Nostradamus; b. Don Cherry and Ron MacLean; c. The federal government; d. Every hockey player since 2010.
If you answered 'd' to every question, you are focused with the right mind set and not getting too far ahead of yourself.