I hate comparing Sidney Crosby to Wayne Gretzky. They're different players. Kobe Bryant isn't the same as Michael Jordan.
It doesn't matter that Ty Cobb would have hit .350 if he played in this era. He's dead.
But it's hard not to throw a superlative or two out when discussing last night's Stanley Cup Final game in Detroit.
That was simply incredible.
I've seen some great multiple-overtime playoff hockey games. I got to call a three-overtime game in St. Cloud last March.
Last night has to rank among the best I've had the privilege of watching.
It had the up-and-down, back-and-forth that great games require. Each team had their periods of dominance, and each team had strokes of good fortune. We had some good, gutsy officiating, and some stupid, gutless officiating. We had great drama with a great finish.
We may have also had a great momentum switch. The younger team found a way to come through, even though they're not as good or as experienced. Fatigue is a great equalizer, and while Pittsburgh seemed to tire first, Detroit gradually joined them. Since you can only get so tired before you can't get any worse, the Wings eventually ended up as tired as the Pens were. Once that happened, they weren't as dominant, and Pittsburgh found a way to take advantage.
For NBC and the NHL, you couldn't have asked for a better piece of theater. If Pittsburgh can find a way to force a Game Seven (something I still see as unlikely), it could be the most-hyped NHL game in years.
Already, the "mainstream" media is coming around. ESPN led "Around the Horn" and "PTI" with talk about Game Five, and there were many compliments thrown out as to the quality of the game and the strength of Pittsburgh's character for finding a way to win. Scott Burnside's quality column on ESPN.com got plenty of front-page play. Fox News Channel probably spent more of their sports time talking about hockey this morning than any other morning (with a possible exception being when Sean Avery was hospitalized) this postseason.
It'll be interesting to see how the press covers Game Six tomorrow night, and even more interesting to see how they handle it if Pittsburgh wins, considering the NBA Finals start Thursday night in Boston. They have a highly-anticipated matchup with the Celtics and Lakers.
Random thoughts on the game and the series:
- Mike Emrick was awesome last night. I loved his story about the four-overtime Devils-Sabres playoff game from 1994. Remember, they played that game in Buffalo, then played Game Seven in Jersey the next night. He did great work, as usual. Having done one multiple-overtime game in my career, my throat aches just thinking about what a broadcaster goes through on a night like that. Adrenaline can take you a long way, but I'll guarantee Doc wasn't talking much when he got up this morning.
- Ryan Malone is awesome. He may never be a 30-goals-per-season star, but he's the kind of player every team needs. If he takes another puck off his face, his knows may just fall off. And he doesn't care.
- Stanley went back in the box quite quickly last night. It wouldn't surprise me if he never made an appearance in Pittsburgh Wednesday night. I'm hopeful that the momentum swung their way, and they can at least carry us to a seemingly improbable (before last night) Game Seven.
- If Sergei Gonchar can't play, good night. Pittsburgh can't continue to deal with not having a solid puck-moving defenseman. I'd love to see Grand Rapids, MN, native Alex Goligoski get a shot if Gonchar can't go, but I have to figure Kris Letang would be the pick. Goligoski's puck-moving ability makes him a decent fit for the lineup against Detroit.