Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

THIS ONE HURT

From Seth...

No goal ever hurt so much as the overtime tally Selanne put in yesterday.

The Wings just had bad luck. You can point to the missed call late in the game, too, when the Ducks had SEVEN men on the ice, and used their extra men to stop what should have been a Detroit 3-on-2 rush. Or the phantom call that put Datsyuk on the bench for the last 1:20 after that. But it was luck who killed the Wings. It was luck that made about 20 pucks hit off the post or the cross-bar, or squirt through the crease on an open net. It was luck that redirected the Ducks' final shot in the 3rd period off of Lidstrom's stick to flutter past Hasek. It was luck that killed Lilja's clearing attempt, which bounced perfectly off a skate into a lonesome Teemu Selanne in overtime.

I don't know what you call the refs missing a Duck leaving his feet for a retaliatory check. Or the refs calling a penalty on two Ducks on the same play, then chatting and deciding to give Detroit two penalties for the post-play crap, and just one to the Ducks. I've never seen a guy get off the hook after a penalty was called on him before -- it was just weird!

Essentially, the Wings have outplayed the Ducks in this series, but providence has outplayed the Wings.

I'm going to be pissed about that overtime goal for a long time. That one hurt more than any goal ever scored on us. It was a knife into the heart of all that is good and righteous and just in hockey. I don't know who to lash out at, even. Does providence have a customer service number?

How many games do you have to win? We were the better team in Game 4. We were the better team in Game 5. We played as well in those two as we did in Game 3. But the puck just won't go in. The officials miss the easy calls. And while 20 of our shots find some freak way of missing the net after another bad play by Giguere (who's been awful in this series), 2 of theirs somehow find a way to knife into the net.

This doesn't hurt like the early playoff exits before. Those you could point at and find a real enemy. Mike Babcock himself admits he pushed the rules of obstruction and holding as far as they could go to knock the Wings out in 2002-03 -- the rules, and Giguere's monster pads, were the enemy. And the Calgary and Edmonton teams that beat us had sold their souls to the devil, particularly the Flames, who collectively have less class than any team in organized sports.

After Calgary I guess I've been a bit numbed. Let's take another moment real quick to recognize what small people make up that franchise. The sport of hockey is worse for the Flames and Jerome Iginla and Jim Playfair. After the things they pulled this year, the NHL should suspend their whole season next year and kick half of the organization out of the sport. Or better yet, fold the team and move a second Atlanta franchise to Calgary (those fans deserve a Kovalchuk and Lehtonen). Mark my words: eventually one of those cheap goon plays is going to end an opposing player's career, just as leaving Bruce Bowen in the NBA will eventually shorten the career of a shooting guard. And when it happens, a lot of people are going to stand around surprised, like they didn't see it coming. But a lot of hockey fans are calling the Ducks dirty for running at Hasek after every play, and leaving their feet for hits, holding sticks and going for late hits on Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Lidstrom.

I'll watch Game 6 a little more carefully. They certainly aren't as obvious about it as the Deserve-to-be-booted-from-the-league Flames, and Pronger is certainly a dirty player, but I kinda thought of this team as more Niedermeyer and less Pronger/Moen. But we should note McDonald, who's the team's no. 1 center, has been pretty dirty, starting with that Game 1 facewash of Hasek, and a lot of tripping and other penalties. He's been called on them a lot, too.

Also, I finally let myself watch replays of the end of the game at lunch today. When the Ducks were 6-on-4, there were about four more penalties that didn't get called on Anaheim. There's even a shot of Lilja's stick getting held during the tying goal.

I shouldn't have watched again. It just makes me sick to my stomach. I just hope the Wings use this same feeling to go out in Anaheim and takes some Ducks heads off.

The playground bully Chris Pronger will never make anyone's list of classy athletes. The Ducks look tired and beat. Giguere isn't just facing shots, but deflections and redirections and wraparounds and point-blank rockets, and he's gut tired. Scott Niedermeyer is gut tired. Teemu Selanne is gut tired. They've been hit hard and spent the series chasing a much more driven and skilled team -- surprisingly so, since on paper they should have been equals. Game 5 looked like a white flag -- sending Perry and Moen to knock over Hasek again and again (hey, the refs ain't callin interference) in the hopes of knocking the old Czech off his guard. But like in Game 4, the bounces come, and suddenly the team that should have lost 4-0 has tied it up 1-1 with less than a minute left.

If Detroit pulls this series out, it's going to mean they're so pissed about Games 4 and 5, particularly 5, that they throw everything to the wind. We were down 3-2 against the Avalanche in 2002, and came back to win the Stanley Cup. Of course, luck brought us that win in Colorado, and the Avs were facing their 3rd Game 7 of the playoffs when it came back to Detroit. And the Ottawa that looks for the winner of this one is more akin to the 1997 Flyers than the 2002 Hurricanes.

And if we don't? This was a better run than we've had, but that one overtime goal by Selanne would stand for all time. It would become the defining moment of the season. The knife would never come out.

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