Thursday, May 15, 2008
“Not in Our House”. “Not on Our Watch”.
I can’t swear this was anything more than delaying the inevitable, but I was certainly happy to see the way-too-many Red Wings fans hang their head and wander out into the night. No offense, Detroit fans, because we all recognize you have a great team, but I would say many of us were happy to see you without that smug look on your face for once.
The performance the Stars put out last night reminded me plenty of many of the other wins on this wonderful playoff run – desperation, determination, and just enough at the end of the game to break through. Led by usual suspects Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano, and Marty Turco, the team gave us all we could ask for – one more night of smiles. Now, we shall repeat the request for Saturday.
Are the legs returning? Is the energy back up? Or did the Stars just relax and play last night like they had nothing to lose? I am sure we all have a number of explanations for a game that finally saw the Stars enjoy a lead for a few minutes. Whatever the combination of reasons might have been, the fact is that the team was able to make Chris Osgood scramble a little bit by unleashing their best forecheck of the series, which was followed by turnovers and scoring chances.
Detroit had plenty of chances pushing back, as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were just as dangerous as ever. But, the Stars hung on and live to fight another day.
Here is a notebook for a Game 4 that extended hockey season for at least 60 more minutes:
· Great to see Modano push through. He has been such a factor for this team during the run as when he plays well, the Stars do, too. Sent out to wing last night with Brad Richards, he looked extra determined, and you have to believe a guy with his resume perhaps realizes he might not get within 3 wins of the Stanley Cup Finals ever again. So, there is no use taking any energy and effort with you to the off-season. He looks like he has decided to leave it all on the ice.
· That Zetterberg is amazing as a penalty killer. Seriously. Watch him some time. He deflects so many passes. He seems to have that ability that they used to say about Pele, that he sees the game 3 or 4 passes ahead of everyone else. I know that sounds crazy, but how else does he know what you are doing before you know?
· Speaking of Henrik, who felt good about Dallas’ chances after he tied the game on the 1st shift of the 3rd period?
· Jeff K plays the music at the American Airlines Center. I am sure he puts plenty of thought into what songs he plays, but I thought it was extra relative last night. 10 minutes before the National Anthem played, he rolls out Pearl Jam’s “Alive”: Is something wrong, she said - Well of course there is - Youre still alive, she said - Oh, and do I deserve to be - Is that the question - And if so...if so...who answers...who answers...-I, oh, Im still alive - Hey i, oh, Im still alive - Hey i, but, Im still alive -Yeah i, ooh, Im still alive -Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah ...I thought of it as I left the arena after the win. I guess that is what they mean about music being the soundtrack of life.
· Marty really had to work last night. He no doubt is not feeling great about his performance in Game 3, and despite many close calls as the puck creeps past the goal line, he kept the Stars in the game. Detroit has a relentless attack, and many goalies are going to look bad against them. I thought this performance was really important to his psyche moving forward. Not just for Saturday, but for many battles in the future. Of course, to really break through the “curse”, he needs a stand-on-his-head performance at their place. Hey look, opportunity knocks on Saturday at 12:30!
· What can you say about Toby Peterson, Loui Eriksson, and Joel Lundqvist? I certainly had no idea what Dave Tippett was thinking matching those three up against the Detroit Super-Line, but I guess they did just fine. They matched them goal for goal, and somehow limited the damage. Toby Peterson is showing that he belongs, while Loui and Joel both add to the bright future of the Stars.
· “Proud” is defined at dictionary.com in many ways. I thought the one that summed up my feelings for the boys yesterday was this one: “Highly Gratifying to the Feelings or Self Esteem”. There was no way they deserved to go out like that, swept at the hands of their hated rivals. I don’t know where this series is going – as odds remain stacked – but if that wasn’t a night of pride for the 18,532, I don’t know what would be. They showed they weren’t going quietly. Well done.
· Detroit certainly got a raw deal on that disallowed goal. It was a blown call, no doubt. Blown calls happen quite a bit in these playoffs, but it is particularly painful that such an innocent party such as Tomas Holmstrom be blamed. I don’t know how any official could accuse him of being in the crease. I kid. Sort of.
· Brenden Morrow is William Wallace. I started saying it last year when he skated on one leg to the Vancouver bench ready to fight the whole team. I see it in nearly every game. I have no idea if he is the greatest captain in the league, but I contend no player inspires his team and his fan base more than #10. With him leading this team, I would say the future of the Dallas Stars is plenty promising.
· With Brenden and Modano in the box, the game was finished with a 6 on 3, with only Steve Ott, Stephane Robidas, and Mattias Norstrom trying to assist Turco in bringing the game home. It was the series in a nutshell – wave after wave of Red coming at you, and the Stars trying courageously to protect the fort. And while the attack was thwarted, it was only momentary. There are many more waves of attacks to withstand.
· The Stars have won their first do-or-die game. They must now do it again. Don’t consider the big picture. If you are the Stars, don’t worry about every 33 years. Worry about resting for a few days, and going into Detroit as a big underdog with nothing to lose. You must win again. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. They’re Still Alive.