Another Year For Canada To Wait
That '93 Habs team just looks better and better as the years go by.
That was the last Canadian-based NHL club to capture the Stanley Cup, and the elimination of the Vancouver Canucks Monday night by the Chicago Blackhawks ensured that it will be at least 2010 before Canada gets another NHL champion.
|Daniel Sedin and other Canucks hang their heads.|
Damn Hawks. On their own, they knocked out two of the three Canadian contenders, the Flames and the Canucks, creating a long summer of soul-searching in both Calgary and Vancouver.
But first things first. Monday night was a spectacular night for the sport of hockey, and the NHL.
All the negative stories in the world - the corporate brawl over the Phoenix Coyotes, the absurd non-suspension of Carolina's Scott Walker - couldn't obscure the fact that two games Monday night, the Canucks-Hawks thriller and the OT contest between Washington and Pittsburgh, delivered as much of everything as a hockey fan could want.
You can take your 1-0 and 2-1 games if you want them. Me, the 5-4 Caps win and the 7-5 Chicago triumph represented hockey at its best, a terrific combination of skill, hitting and passion that produced an entertainment package that no other sport could match if the NHL could ever find a way to deliver it on a consistent basis.
It's the greatest game on earth, particularly when it's allowed to be.
We'll leave the Caps and Pens for now since there's another game in that series to be played. Chicago, meanwhile, roared back from a 4-3 third period deficit and in so doing obliterated the myth of Roberto Luongo for now, if not for good. Luongo gave up 21 goals in the six-game series and is now a career .500 goalie in the post-season at 11-11. How on the basis of performance and results he could be projected as Canada's starter in the Olympics next winter strains the imagination. In fact, right now, he would be No. 3 in my books behind Martin Brodeur and Cam Ward.
The good news for the Canucks braintrust led by GM Mike Gillis is that Daniel Sedin delivered two beautiful, clutch goals, which should make it at lot easier for Gillis to throw millions at the Sedin twins this summer.
Ex-Leaf captain Mats Sundin scored a nice goal Monday night, but his dream of being part of a Stanley Cup winner - if that was indeed the point of going to Vancouver - ended once again in disappointment. Retirement now again stares Sundin in the face and while he ended last year with most believing he had miles still left on his chassis, there's far less belief in that notion now.
The Hawks, meanwhile, look likely to face their Original Six rivals Detroit in the Western Conference finals, with the Red Wings holding a 3-2 series lead on Anaheim heading into Game 6 Tuesday in Orange County. That would be a memorable matchup, the natural successor to the brilliant Pittsburgh-Washington clash which, unfortunately, will have to come to a conclusion Wednesday night in the District of Columbia.
Patrick Kane's hat trick paced the Hawks Monday night, but this is a hockey team that plays with breathtaking exuberance and doesn't seem to realize it shouldn't be experienced enough to get this far into the NHL post-season. The Hawks were within a few minutes of going down 3-1 in the series to Vancouver, but fought back late in Game 4 to create overtime and then win it.
They were the big Canadian killers in these playoffs, and who would say now they have no chance of taking this all the way to a championship?