Monday, May 05, 2008
Brenden Morrow and Marty Turco. It is only fitting, isn’t it? The two guys who have been the hopes of the “Next Generation” Dallas Stars for years, at times taking the heat for not getting it done, were the men who led the way when the Stars needed them most.
You see, in sports, it often isn’t like that. In the biggest moments, sometimes it
is an anonymous name or face that makes the play to get the team through, with the faces you know often serving as only decoys or supporting roles.
But, not in the most memorable game ever played in the American Airlines Center. In Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinal, the game was won by 20 guys in Black. But, make no mistake, they were carried by Morrow and Turco.
Marty Turco made 61 saves. Many of them moments where you just knew the red light was going to be activated. How he kept his composure and found the puck for 7 periods is amazing. At times, he was hung out to dry by his mates. A horrible turnover would end up right on the stick of the wrong guy, only to have Turco save the day. Marty has been asked to out-last the guy at the other end of the rink, and in this unforgettable 2008 playoff run, he has shown the quality that made Ed Belfour a legend in these parts. He has shown that he has no interest in giving in this year.
And then there is the captain. O Captain, Our Captain. What in the heck could you say about Brenden Morrow? Somehow, he was credited with 19 hits. Somehow, he never looked tired. And somehow, Morrow put the game out of its misery at 1:24am. And for the second consecutive Game 6, the pure joy on the battered face of the Stars’ captain shows that the paychecks are nice – but you can’t buy the feeling of winning in the playoffs. Razor was comparing his performance in these playoffs to Mark Messier’s legendary runs. I will defer to Razor since they were mates back in the day, but allow me to say I have never seen anyone will his team to a new level like Brenden is right now.
We don’t know when this journey will end, but if they don’t win another game in these playoffs, the legends of Morrow and Turco have already given us memories that shall last for a very long time.
Notes and Stuff from a blurry eyed note book as I have a coffee IV drip to try to get me going this morning:
• Let’s start with you, Stars’ fans. Bravo. 18,532 screaming voices. Standing through the overtimes almost continuously. When the team took the ice for the 4th overtime, the towels were still swinging. And every chance was still accompanied by wild enthusiasm from the crowd. I have no idea how many of you hung in there at the arena, but it was plenty. What a crowd. What a night. I challenge any sport to match the drama, exhilaration, exhaustion, and delirium of NHL Playoff Hockey. Not to trivialize many wonderful moments in my life, but I wonder if 1:24am on Cinco De Mayo 2008 cracks the rankings.
• What more could the Sharks have done? Honestly, I wonder how they will be treated in their home town in the next few days. It is the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Since 2004, no NHL team has won more games in the playoffs than the San Jose Sharks. And, since 2004, no NHL team has lost more games in the playoffs than the San Jose Sharks. If I am them, I am totally lost as to improvements I should make. The Sharks are good enough. They just needed one more play. One more inch. But, it didn’t happen. When you are on the right side of that one inch, you don’t ask “why?” you just take your win and advance. But, when all that stopped you was the thinnest of margins, you are sick to your stomach. Fire your coach? Trade your key players? We have asked those questions around here. And boy, Dallas is so happy they didn’t fire or trade any of the heroes from last night in summers of frustration past.
• Evgeni Nabokov’s theft of Brad Richards may be the greatest save I have ever seen. Brad Richards had Nabokov beat and fired a shot as hard as he could into the open mouth. And there, is Nabokov’s glove hand to save the game. Did it cross the line? Maybe 90% of the puck did. If the Sharks had gone on to win, this save would have haunted the Stars’ organization for years. But, they figured out a way to overcome it. Nabokov did, however, allow us all to watch another 3 periods of overtime, thanks to this save.
• Morrow’s hit on Milan Michalek was so thunderous that the arena exploded. But, when Michalek stayed down on the ice, it got quiet really fast. I have been unable to find any reports on his health this morning, but we sure hope he is fine. The impact of that hit was felt the rest of the night. From the Shark’s standpoint, they lost one of their best players. And from the Stars’ side, it seemed like the captain making a statement that the Stars were not going to be denied.
• Wasn’t the greatest part of the evening that while both goalies were putting on a show, the opposition was getting chances from their very best players. Mike Ribeiro had them, Richards had them, Zubov had them. Joe Thornton, Jeremy Roenick, Patrick Marleau had them in the other direction. So many golden scoring opportunities, and so many saves. Glorious, glorious hockey.
• Speaking of Roenick, the moment in the handshake shared by JR and Mike Modano was a picture worth 1,000 words. As a hardcore fan of U.S. Hockey, I am a huge fan of both of those men, and proud that at this advanced age, they are both phenomenal examples of what it is all about. If that was Roenick’s last game, he has nothing to be ashamed of.
• Marty, Marty, Marty! How about the save on Thornton in the 2nd period with the left arm along the ice? Wow.
• Do you think there is a fine line between winning and losing? Consider Stephane Robidas; He falls and almost is the goat as Turco bails him out on Thornton’s chance, and then has the masterful dish to Morrow to win the game. It is a game of inches.
• Toby Peterson was another name at the bottom of the Stars roster until last night. Last night, he was a guy who belonged in the line-up. Great job, Toby. I wouldn’t be shocked if someone buys a #17 sweater this week based on your 16 shifts of excitement in Game 6.
• Despite the fact it is Cinco De Mayo, I have to think hockey fans may require a siesta more than a celebration today.
• Finally, the team that scored 1st won a game. Although it is a goofy stat given that the teams were tied for about 4 hours.
• The longest game the Dallas Stars have ever won is in the books. So, is the rest of the Pacific Division. Only 4 teams are left. Detroit is next. The Wings will be large favorites. Fine with me. As long as Morrow, Turco, and the boys have something to say about this, I suspect the Stars will show themselves very well.
• Rest up. 8 down. 8 to go?