Monday, May 4, 2009

Sportsology: Stanley Cup Playoffs are great indeed

By Rick Morris

Our good pal Russ Cohen at Sportsology/Hockeyology penned another great column, this time about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As a longtime Wings honk, I was very much hurt by the results of the epic battle against the Ducks yesterday, but I share Russ's regard for the entertainment value of the showdown and why it reminds us of what we love about sports -- and I share his respect for the excellent young Darren Helm. And I share his disdain for the "protection racket" practices of "The Worldwide Leader," burying the sports they don't cover below the ones that they do on SportsCenter. As we do from time to time, we bring you this column from Russ about the incomparable nature of playoff hockey.

Playoff Hockey At Its Best
By Russ Cohen

It's hard to watch every game especially over the weekend, but my TiVo was busy and I decided to focus in on the Ducks-Wings series -- mainly the last game. What can you say about a Triple OT game other than it's amazing how hard these guys were playing right up until the final goal by Todd Marchant. The checking was hard, the passes were crisp, and the goaltenders were incredible.

I have to admit that so far Jonas Hiller looks great. He hasn’t been rattled at all, and so far in the postseason, he’s faced 313 shots in eight games! In triple OT, he stopped 59! It’s hard to believe that J.S. Giguere's role has been cheerleader, but hey, there’s a reason for that.

I also love watching Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer work. Both of them won’t be around much longer, so I am enjoying every minute.

Another person besides Ryan Getzlaf who played a great game and series for the Ducks has been Bobby Ryan. I’ve done a lot of articles on the kid from Cherry Hill, N.J., but he has performed so well in the playoffs, so far, and that makes me happy. He had six shots on goal and an assist in the triple OT game and so far he has five points in eight playoff games and he’s somebody that Detroit’s defense has to watch every time he’s out on the ice.

OK, there’s a lot to talk about on the Red Wings, but I have to mention one reason why they are so successful: their players are selfless. Darren Helm is back in the playoff lineup. Last season, he played just seven regular season games and then he played almost every game in the playoffs and Stanley Cup. He got his ring. Well, this season, he played just 16 regular season games. As a matter of fact, I covered a Grand Rapids game on March 28th and Helm was having a spectacular AHL game that day. He had two goals that night, and sure enough, he made it all the way back to the big club because of his heart, determination and belief in the organization!

I have personally said 3-4 years ago that Chris Osgood was not a Hall of Fame goaltender. I have to say that I have changed my mind. He was terrific last year during the playoffs, and especially the Stanley Cup Finals, and I got to see that firsthand. So far this year, he’s 5-1 with a .928 save percentage and yesterday he stopped 42 shots, at the age of 37, playing all 101:15 -- and he never looked tired. He has 389 career wins, a career .906 save percentage, and Stanley Cup rings (three and counting). What else does he have to do? Well, in my eyes, his numbers are better than Grant Fuhr’s and I think he’s now a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame.

Now some commentary on ESPN. It’s a shame that they have decided to push the NBA for the first 15 minutes of their morning show. No NHL talk. Really? After a triple OT game. It makes me sad and it just shows me how their bread is buttered.

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