2006 Stanley Cup Final
Despite numerous invites to take in tonight's game at various Toronto watering holes, I think I'm going to sit this game out here at home — which means I'll probably have a few updates as the night goes on.
So far, the interesting storyline has Erik Cole taking the pre-game skate. The CBC talking heads are saying he probably won't play, but I'm not so sure that's the case.
UPDATE Doug Weight says teammate Cole is, indeed, going in. Should he score — talk about a momentum boost. Cole was probably the top power-forward type player in the NHL this season prior to his injury and is the kind of guy who can make a huge impact here.
UPDATE "They will win tonight," Don Cherry says of the Oilers. He also calls the fact Cole is playing "absolute insanity," pointing to Eric Lindros's ill-fated postseason comeback with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000.
END OF THE 1ST While Edmonton's physical play has certainly been better than Carolina's, it was a pretty tentative first period and I don't think either goaltender was really, seriously tested so far. The play where Jussi Markkanen flew out of the net to challenge a shooter probably constituted the best scoring chance, and it wasn't much of one at that.
Still, an excellent pace. The Hurricanes definitely need to test Markkanen more than the three shots they put on goal here (and I expect they will).
1:45 OF THE 2ND Ales Hemsky floats a pass to Fernando Pisani in the slot, who backhands a weak shot past Cam Ward for his league-leading 13th goal. 1-0, Oilers.
The puck deflects off Hurricanes defenceman Glen Wesley on the way to the net.
9:54 OF THE 2ND 2-0, Oilers. Mike Peca doesn't get an assist on this goal, but he's certainly deserving. And, my oh my is Carolina struggling to generate anything resembling an offensive chance in this game.
Peca blazes through the neutral zone, and despite being impeded by the Hurricanes defender, managed to get the puck in deep and cycles back around to Pisani. Pisani plays the puck back to the blueline to Jaroslav Spacek, who fires it towards the slot where Raffi Torres has a marvellous tip through Ward's legs.
The Hurricanes really look in trouble here.
END OF THE 2ND From the shot totals alone this game so far is likely the most lopsided of the postseason. Edmonton's outshooting the Hurricanes 22 to 7 after two periods, and Carolina's shot total might be awfully close to a record number through two-thirds of a game.
The good news for the Hurricanes is that they're only down by two, which means playing only one decent period can put them right back into the game. I suppose we'll see.
3:04 OF THE 3RD 3-0, Oilers. Well, we can safely say it: Bring on Game 7.
Ryan Smyth took a lot of guff from his teammates over the relative weakness of his shot — Chris Pronger called it a 'muffin' — but he scores on a nice backhander here after being setup nicely by Peca in the neutral zone.
This game has looked a lot like the Edmonton-Anaheim match-up in the Western Conference final.
13:05 OF THE 3RD 4-0, Oilers. As Harry Neale tells us, the shots are 30-11 Edmonton, which is about as close to a slaughter as you can get in the NHL playoffs.
Shawn Horcoff picks up just his second point of the series on a nice give and go play with Radek Dvorak that Horcoff finishes by going high on Ward (which is the book on the young 'tender, according to Colby Cosh).
The Rexall Place faithful break out into 'We Want the Cup,' a chant that they've, wisely, saved for just this instance.
At this point, the thing I'm happiest for is that I'm not working on Monday night.
END OF THE GAME Carolina showed so little fight, so little fortitude that this one wasn't even close. Frankly, this is more along the lines of what I expected before the series began.