This game began with me nearly vomiting all over my dog. Finding out that Big E wouldn't be playing due to appendicitis just about sent me over the edge. It was worse than having the Lidstrom bomb dropped on me before Game 4, but only because Lidstrom was also out.
Then, the Wings spent the entire first period on the powerplay. Or rather, they looked like they were on the powerplay. I've never seen anything quite like it before. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Even though they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, it had to pay dividends late in the third and in OT just for the light load it placed on their defensemen. Seriously though, I was mocking Huet and his French-ness (apparently France has an Olympic hockey team. Who knew?), but he absolutely STOLE the first period. In fact, he almost stole the game. I was starting to wonder if The Chief's post over at Abel to Yzerman had caused the Hockey Gods to instill him with some sort of inexplicable brilliance. His save on Franzen at the end of regulation left me with my mouth hanging open, which wouldn't have been a problem except for the fact that my dog chose that moment to lick my face. Best believe that snapped me back to my senses quickly.
Possibly my only problem with the first period, other than that big fat zero on the scoreboard, was the fact that the Versus announcer kept saying things like, "he finessed the puck over." He must've used that phrase 100 times in the first twenty minutes. I think I would've stabbed myself in the ear with a spork if it hadn't been for that intermission. Not that I spent the first intermission with rainbows and unicorns dancing in my head or anything, but it's possible that it saved my life. I mostly paced nervously and scared my brother's friend with my intensity. There's a nasty lingering stench about Game 5s from last year, although to be fair, the boys have been dominant in both that they've played this season.
I don't have a lot of time to recap on account of needing to wake up ridiculously early tomorrow, but I have to talk about Darren Helm. I was planning on writing about him just for that epic penalty kill where he single-handedly cycled the puck deep in Chicago's end, got a shot on net, grabbed his own rebound, and then killed off some more time. Beautiful. And then netting the goal in OT? This guy's got a great future. Someone on the live blog over at A2Y mentioned that he's now the all-time leader for most playoff goals scored before netting one in the regular season. And the goal that put him over the top for that? The Western Conference Finals series clincher in OT. Don't forget his beautiful breakaway goal in Game 7, either. This kid shows up to play in the big games, and that's exactly why Babcock has had him in the lineup since the beginning.
Gotta love Dan Cleary's redirection to finally break the seal. For all of their skill and "finesse" passing, the Wings score a lot of goals that look just like that.
And what about Chris Osgood? The man played the game of his life tonight. If he stays in form like that in the Finals, and there's no reason to think he won't, you have to like the Wings' chances. I've been an Ozzie lover since the beginning, and nothing makes me happier than shoving this game down the throats of everyone who spent the entire regular season ripping on him. I don't care the regular season, so long as it results in a playoff berth. It's utterly meaningless in my opinion. All Chris Osgood does is win playoff games. Early in the second period when the Blackhawks woke up and discovered that they were, in fact, involved in a hockey game, it was Ozzie who kept the Wings in the game. He made save after big-time save, and if you ask more of a goalie, you're a fool.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention two other guys: Brad Stuart and Kirk Maltby. Maltby played his best game of the season, by far, and Stuie stepped up big time on the PK. Bravo, sunshines!
I said it after Game 4, and I'll say it a thousand more times. No other organization in the NHL, or possibly all of sportsdom (yes, sometimes I make up words), could lose the caliber of talent the Wings had sitting in the press box tonight and still clinch a series. That's not to say that I didn't throw up in my mouth a little every time Chelios and Meech were on the ice. I didn't notice much of Meech, but Cheli made a couple of plays that were nearly disastrous.
And *drumroll, please* the boys managed to NOT give up a powerplay goal tonight! Granted, they did a pretty good job of staying out of the box, but still, it's something to build on for the Finals. And then there was Darren Helm, who I've already discussed. Ownage!
I also liked the look on Z's face when he was like, "I'm not touching that," with the trophy. He looked at the guy presenting it like he was a moron for even suggesting it. I was also amused by the big deal ESPN made about the Pens' decision to touch the Prince of Wales trophy. Hockey has to fight tooth and nail to get mainstream coverage most of the time, and there's a big Game 5 going on later and ESPN runs a history of the decision to touch the conference trophy? Seriously? I guess we'll see which strategy works out better.
More on the rematch, or as I like to call it, the re-ownage of Sidney Crosby. You have to imagine it's gut-check time for Marian Hossa. I'd like nothing more than to see him absolutely light it up in the Finals just to prove himself right. Especially since it seems like every other Wings player is injured.
PS. Dare I say it's time to bust out The Zetterberg Song? Or at least the end of it.