Tonight’s game was a gem. I enjoyed it as much as I’ve ever enjoyed watching a game. Talent, desire, desperation and meanness all in the name of the quest for Stanley.
Category Archives: Great Games
As the play-offs for big boys begin, one has to wonder who will be the underdog that surprises this year. The first round of the NHL play-offs is one of the great carnivals of team sport. There’s always some team that shouldn’t, but does, which is often against a team that should have but doesn’t. Then again, sometimes it’s the team that should, that almost doesn’t but then somehow squeaks by, barely, in a first round scare. Often such a scare makes them better and harder to beat down the stretch.
Remember the year the Islanders played the Rangers after the miracle on ice in Lake Placid? Best of five and what a series. The Rangers could easily have won with another break or two, but they didn’t and the rest is history. Or how about the year the Flames won the cup way back when Vernon was in net for them in ’89. They survived a 7th game overtime in the first round, one in which Vernon stopped someone on a break-away to keep it alive. I’m not sure who missed on break-away, nor even who the other team was. As the Hip song says “no one’s interested in something you didn’t do.”
I remember it well. I was a kid too young to be out with buddies celebrating but instead was dialed into hockey pretty tight. This wasn’t New Year’s eve, this was Canada vs. Russia.
Here’s a great clip from the post-game interview with Howie Meeker interviewing Pete Mahovolich. Gotta love Meeker’s lead into one question where he describes big Pete coming out of the corner and having Tretiak “down and out to dinner”.
Later, Meeker describes hockey as the “…greatest entertainment in the world today, played by the greatest people, regardless of whether you are from Canada, the United States, Czechoslovakia or Russia…”. At a time when the cold war still raged, this guy could have cared less – it was all about the hockey and he had a world view of the game long before many others in Canada.
Mahovolich comments about how the game was played a lot like it used be played “on the pond” with players not having to worry about sticks up around their ears.
At the end of the game, it was very cool to see Mahovolich and Cournoyer, with Tretiak in the middle, waving to the fans from centre ice at the old Forum as the organ played in the background. The boards were white, some of the Habs were still without helmets and Dick Irvin was his classic self, gushing forth about how ridiculously better the Habs were than their foes on this night, as he did in every game he ever did as the Habs colour man.