More stream of thought type stuff. Game 3, 25 April 2006, started 10PM Eastern and ended about 0215 on the 26th. What a journey.
Chris Chelios drew a stick penalty on Ales Hemsky, what a diver. He's not dirty because of cheapshots, he's dirty because he dives more than Forsberg on a power play. The refs owe the Oilers a goal - the call on Ryan Smyth for goalie interference was crap and Samsonov should have had a goal. Instead it comes back the other way and goes in for the tying goal. Nice job. The refs are missing some calls on the Oilers, but overall it seems like the Wings are having some trouble keeping up - especially their old n slow dmen - and are getting the benefit of the doubt on the hooks and interferences. There was speculation before the series started that Yzerman, Chelios, Lidstrom, and Shanahan would have to stab an Oiler to death on the ice before getting called - well, Yzerman got penalized last game, but it was a pretty blatant penalty, and Shanahan's had a few "missed opportunities", so to speak. (Reading that, I realize I sound like such a homer, but... damn.)
Bergeron's playing less like a young and tiny Janne Niinimaa this game, at least in the early going. It's nice to see Ryan Smyth's hard work finally get rewarded too. Oilers are forechecking much more aggressively this game too.
I predicted a 6 game Detroit victory, but Legace's playing a bit like Conkannen were earlier this year, and it seems like the Wings don't really want to win the series - the Oilers just want it more so far. There's still lots of hockey left in the series, but ever since game 1 went to double OT and Roli stood on his head, it's like the Wings just haven't really had their hearts in it. .. and just now, Tomas Holmstrom showed some heart, but stupidly. Doing his usual in front of Roloson, he drew Jason Smith's attention, who then basically threw him to the ice in the corner, they went at each other, delayed penalty, and then Holmstrom mixed it up a bit with Roloson as he skated to the bench on the call. Simultaneous penalties on Holmstrom and Roloson, but Holmstrom got the original 2 minutes for interference on Smith... stupid. As Mark Lee (or was it John Garrett?) said, he was likely trying his best to draw a penalty, but that's not the way to do it.
Second period... Oilers need to hit the net on the PP, especially Spacek. The ice is better in Edmonton and it shows. Hrm, maybe the refs are feeling bad, they're actually calling interference on the Wings now. Ah, they made up for it - Draper just about took Peca's head off and there's no call. Nice suey from Staios (?) on that play though. Peca came back out for the PK on Ryan Smyth's goalie interference call not much later though. The second's mostly done now, and I don't think Spacek's had a shot on goal yet - certainly not on the PP.
Roloson's been way out of position a few times this game (maybe only once?) and several times so far in the series - but he usuall recovers quickly and efficiently, and the defencemen (and sometimes forwards) are doing a good job of covering for him. Much better than the gong show we saw with Conklin and Morrison earlier this season. Yeah, he was worth that first round pick, I think, especially the way the Oilers seem to draft.
A sequence in the second period - 13:30 left - where Winchester the rookie made Mathieu Schneider look pretty ineffective along the boards. I have to say, I was pretty surprised at him on the first line last game, but he's earned his paycheque this season now.
Hrm, I was saying earlier they needed to break up Hemsky and Samsonov - they're playing pretty well together in the second period, but Rem Murray centering them? Holy hannah.
Mike Peca appears to be a bit snakebit once again. Man, he's playing well in his own end, but he might as well just stop once the Oilers gain the o-zone, although his setup of Pisani last game was pretty sweet.
Tarnstrom did this game what Pronger didn't last game and hauled down Steve Yzerman as he cut in front of the net from the goalie's left. Yzerman drew the penalty this time. Remains to be seen whose idea is best. Lidstrom got a bit of Peca's luck on the ensuing PP - off the post and the crossbar on the same shot, it looked like.
Nick Lidstrom for Norris this season? Maybe, but if the Oilers go very far at all this year, it'll have to be Pronger for Conn Smythe. I know which I'd rather have. Funny, the commentators said the same thing about Pronger outplaying Lidstrom so far just as I was typing that.
CBC thinks Chelios can play for another year or two - only if the refs continue buying his act, I think.
Speaking of Michael Peca, as disappointing as his year was, I'm glad he's apparently rounded back into form - he's playing the body hard and making smart plays in his own end. I don't care if he scores a single goal these playoffs, if he keeps playing the way he has been, he was worth it.
Watching the Oilers PK, they're not as good at getting their sticks in the passing lanes as the Wings players are. They're very good at blocking shots though - I've seen some dismissal of that, but I remember in the playoffs against the Stars in 98 and 99, that's one of the ways that the Stars just *killed* the Oilers - continual shot blocks. It was frustrating as hell to watch, and it must have been equally frustrating for the players on-ice. Third period though, Stoll went down to block a shot and Williams made him look like a bonobo lying on the ice, went around him and dished it off, and like that it was 3-2.
The CBC cameramen don't really seem to be on the ball this game - a number of the replays don't show the puck at all - just out of frame - and there was a sequence on the PK (Rem Murray's hold on Yzerman) where the puck was in the Oilers zone and somehow not at all in the picture. Maybe that happens normally and I just don't notice it as much, but it feels a lot like the Oilers/Wings are getting third-stringers. Happened again in OT - first on Detroit's PP, and then again on Edmonton's. Usually the blueline wasn't even visible - it was like "watching the radio," as Dad and I used to call listening to 630 CHED. At least we have the PP clock / indicator back for the game.
And now speaking of Rem Murray, it's nice that Mark Lee has finally figured out that he was signed from the Houston Aeros, not "called up".
... with about 5 minutes left in the third, Chris Chelios overtakes Lilja and leaves him in the dust. Partially Hemsky was off-balance, but that was a vicious shove from behind to put him into the boards, and Chelios can't be surprised that Hemsky was hurt. Kudos to Hemsky for getting up and going for the bench though - that *had* to hurt. Watching the replay again - Chelios basically threw him into the boards. Maybe Chelios is lucky that Laraque isn't dressed, it's a 3-3 game and if I'm BG, I'll take the 5 minutes if I can get him to drop the gloves. Hemsky came back out with about a minute and a half left - looks like he's got a cut on his lip now, maybe his visor got him.
Impression is that game 3 wasn't as heavy-hitting as game 2 was, although Jason Smith's been throwing his weight around a bit.
Hemsky again, 1OT with about 4 minutes left, he drove to the net just like... ok, kinda like Ryan Smyth, good on him to go to the traffic areas, he even bodied Schneider out of the way. Then Datsyuk blocked a Pronger shot - does he want to go back on the IR? And the hitting picked up late in the first OT - Smith earlier, then Torres. Dvorak's snakebitten too, he and Peca could form the checking forward hard luck club. If #26 Marchant came back, they could have a whole line. Peca made up for it by crushing a Wing a few seconds later though.
Why can't these teams do normal overtimes like all the other ones? Double OT is hard on those of us in the Eastern time zone.
Again in 2OT, the Williams line sucked somebody - Staios, I think, or maybe Tarnstrom - into blocking early and got a really good chance on goal. That's got to be a... weakness, I guess, in Edmonton's defensive scheme that the Wings have identified and are obviously actively trying to exploit. They're having better luck than the Oilers did against the Stars five or six years ago too.
... for a change, the game winning goal was *not* totally mucky/lucky, it came off a turnover and some hard work by the Oilers forwards, although Legace's muffed catch attempt was kind of ugly.
2-1 series lead for the Oilers. I have to admit, while I figured the teams would split the first 4 games evenly (and so far I'm 75% correct), I saw it as *maybe* the Oilers win game 1, but probably not, and I certainly didn't see them with the lead at this point. It would be cheating now to change my mind about Wings in 6, but I've gotta say, I'm a lot more optimistic now than I was last Thursday.