This is another installment of our Classic Liveblog series, wherein I struggle to cope with the NHL offseason and chronicle historic games from simpler times. If you care to see previous entries:
- March 26, 1997: Red Wings vs. Avalanche
- 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5: Red Wings vs. Hurricanes
- 2002 Conference Finals, Game 7: Red Wings vs. Avalanche
- 2001 Michigan State vs. Michigan football game
What a wild game this was. And dare I say -- of the great Red Wings games from this generation -- it's somewhat of an overlooked one. Maybe it's because the biggest goals were scored by Doug Brown and Kris Draper. Or because in retrospect, the Finals were just slightly anti-climatic after three hard-fought, six game series. Or because the thought of losing to this Capitals team even once now seems preposterous, so it was really never in doubt. Or because it wasn't an Avalanche game. Man, did I really call the Stanley Cup Finals anti-climatic a few sentences ago? Wings fans are the worst, I hate us.
- 20:00 -- Have you ever looked at the word "period" for too long and been like, "Hey that's not a real word!" It looks funny.
- 20:00 -- This was the game in which Ron Wilson gave his famous "Hanta Yo" pregame speech.
- 20:00 -- The Wings took the first game to jump out to a 1-0 series advantage, and the final three wins already feel like a formality. Because of the loss of Vladimir Konstantinov, the '98 Red Wings played with an unparalleled level of purpose and were as much of a lock to win this series as any team in the history of ever. An electric buzz sizzles throughout Joe Louis Arena in anticipation of the opening faceoff. The crowd is already engaged in some sort of euphoric blend of an "OZ-ZIE / GO-WINGS-GO" chant. And the mere sight of Joe Juneau's weird face nearly ruins the moment entirely.
- 19:59 -- The Wings start off the game with one of my favorite lines: Slava Kozloz, Sergei Fedorov, and Doug Brownov.
- 18:21 -- Joey Kocur gets into a little skirmish after an offside call. One mustachioed fellow was ready to help Joey even if it meant wrinkling his suit.
- 18:21 -- he's just kidding he's happy
- 17:09 -- The Caps forechecking pressure gets to the lovable yet 150-year old Slava Fetisov and he turns the puck over trying to clear it up the boards in the Detroit end. Chris Osgood is forced to make two big saves to keep the game scoreless in the opening minutes. (During the 1998 season -- well, his whole career really, but especially this season -- Ozzie was seen by the media as either being in the process of redeeming himself or pissing all of his goodwill away. He was riding a two game Redemption streak coming into this contest -- shutting out the Stars to win the Western Conference and holding the Capitals to one goal in a Game 1 victory. Redemption Ozzie was on-point to start Game 2.)
- 16:55 -- Bill Clement, in reference to that last Washington rush, applauds their "Capital Punishment" line. I mean that's kind of messed up right, a group of guys with a nickname that implies they legally kill other people.... I'm sure Craig Berube has killed a guy before but I doubt he did it legally.
- 12:19 -- When watching these old games I always get a kick out of the many line combinations Scotty Bowman would use. During the '97 and '98 playoffs he seemed to enjoy spreading out Shanahan, Yzerman and Fedorov (as we saw with Sergei on the Two and 1/2 Russians line). In fact I'm still stunned to this day that Scotty stuck Tomas Sandstrom's corpse (0 goals, 4 assists) on Yzerman's wing for pretty much the entirety of the '97 playoffs without Stevie chaining Sandstrom to a pipe in his basement. In 1998 however, Yzerman and the Wings got a "Tomas" upgrade in the form of Holmstrom
- 12:11 -- A line of Homer-Yzerman-McCarty lines up for an offensive zone faceoff; Stevie wins the draw and after a shot deflects to the corner, he goes to the net. Homer does his puck-retrieval thing and centers a pass to Stevie who bangs home a loose puck for the 1-0 lead. Still confused as to how a player with a 90-something jersey number not named Fedorov could produce for the Wings, both Thorne and Clement sing Sergei's praises for his assist on the goal, despite him being on the bench. And by my unofficial count, this was one of 1,250 Red Wing goals that resulted directly from a Steve Yzerman faceoff win.
- 6:56 -- Every Wing line is pouring it on offensively during this stretch as the Caps just struggled to keep their heads above water. The Kozlov-Fedorov-Brown combo was just so fun to watch. The Russian Five were great because they could just dangle and keep the puck the entire game. With Brown up front instead of Igor though there was a bit more kick -- a defensive guy to win back puck possession with the occasional nose for the net that the Five sometimes lacked. The whole sequence of this scoring chance from 4:33 to 5:00 was particularly nice.
- 2:47 -- Not wanting to be outdone by the Red Wings' three previous playoff opponents, the Capitals clearly wanted to score the Bad Osgood Goal to end all Bad Osgood Goals. Adam Oates nearly pulled it off with this shot from about 190 feet. Said Bill Clement, "Those are the only ones Chris Osgood has trouble with -- the ones from 4,000 miles away." Looking at the replay, I'm honestly a little bit mad. Ozzie let in not one but two goals from center ice previously in the 1998 playoffs; you would think a rink-long slapper like this would get him to just perhaps move his whole body in front of the puck. For real, I'm actually a little bit annoyed right now. Let's move on.
- 20:00 -- I'm telling you there's something about that "period" word. The "iod" part, it doesn't look right.
- 18:07 -- With this series looking like it was headed the same direction as the Wings-Flyers curb-stomping from the year before, the Capitals score one of the stranger goals in Cup Finals history to completely turn the momentum around. The puck is iced from the Washington end and everyone in the building knows that it will either be a two line pass if Peter Bondra touches it, or it will be icing if Larry Murphy touches it. Bondra takes nothing for granted and rips a slapper on goal; it somehow finds a hole through Ozzie's pads and into the net; and the referees call it a goal. Replay clearly shows that no Red Wing tipped the iced puck, and that this was in fact a three line pass. 1-1 game.
- 18:07 -- Just so we're clear: Ozzie should stop that anyway and his Redemption Streak is officially over after seven periods.
- 13:49 -- Without the landslide of momentum that they were carrying in the first period, the Wings were now unable to run away with Game 2. And after Ozzie kicks a big rebound right onto Chris Simon's stick, Simon roofs one to make it 2-1 Caps. This was all the more shocking because up to this point in Simon's '98 playoff run, any puck that left his stick was automatically recorded by the NHL stats department as a turnover.
- 13:49 -- That was Chris Simon's only point of the playoffs. 18 games, 1 goal, 0 assists. Bill Clement, verbatim: "He has got a huge-ie right now!" That was actually said on air. I'm sure I'd pop a boner too if I just scored my only goal of the postseason.
- 10:55 -- Jamie Macoun was a Detroit Red Wing.
- 9:15 -- More Chris Simon commentary from lip-reading expert Bill Clement: "We get pretty good at reading lips up here .... watch Chris Simon skating by Detroit' bench: 'Try me. Any guy, any time. Try me.'" Simon was then immediately stricken down by severe gonorrhea and would miss the remainder of the series.
- 8:58 -- More craziness ensues as Larry Murphy and Nick Lidstrom team up for an awful turnover just outside the Wings' blue line. Adam Oates is right there to poke the puck free and have a clean breakaway on Osgood, which he buries to make the score 3-1. We were all stunned. Through five Finals games plus one period over the past two seasons, I just thought Detroit steamrolling people in the Finals would happen every single year until the day I died. Because I was 12 and I was stupid. The Capitals woke me up from that dream and midway through Game 2 things weren't making a whole lot of sense.
We get it. "A" for Adam, very cute, yes.
- 0:00 -- "Time running out here, and for the Washington Capitals, an ENORMOUS second period." Sorta.
- 0:00 -- "One guy is gonna have to be called upon to preserve this lead, and he's big #37 in goal, Godzilla, Olaf Kolzig." I never really got the Godzilla nickname, did he eat a guy named Dave Mothra or what
- 13:37 -- As shock begins to give way to the realization that maybe this isn't our game, Nick Lidstrom is called for hooking as Todd Krygier nearly breaks his neck diving. Now it's an even bigger uphill climb.
- 13:24 -- Then there was Stevie Y. He grew to be an inspiring penalty killer and shot-blocker during the latter half of his career, and he stayed dangerous on the PK by always knowing when to pick his spots to cherry pick. After winning another faceoff (see?) he heads up ice upon seeing that Fetisov is in position to either clear the puck down the ice or spot him for a long-bomb pass. He gets the pass, Larry Murphy joins the rush as a decoy (because I don't think a Red Wing ever passed it to Murph on a rush) to make it a 2-on-1, and Stevie buries his second goal of the game to make it 3-2 Caps. We're comin' back! Vladdy's in the press box for fuck's sake, nothing will stop us now!
- 12:55 -- Before you could finish spelling "Konstantinov", Joe Juneau's dumb face scores with Nick Lidstrom still in the box to put the Capitals up by two once again. 4-2. Okay, it really wasn't happening now, not after all of this. Not with Steve Yzerman's heroics being cancelled out, and certainly not while Scotty Bowman was curiously wearing a suit jacket the same color as the other team.
- 12:55 -- And if you're still keeping track, Osgood has not only lost his Redemption Streak, but he has done what he can to start a collection of Poop Streaks in every pair of underwear inside Joe Louis Arena. (Zing! Eat shit you didn't pay to read this.)
- 11:52 -- One of my stupid favorite things is Gary Thorne yelling, "MAR-TAN LAPOINTE!" He seemed to punctuate most every Marty goal with that same cadence, and I just always loved it. You can check it out as Lapointe scores the third goal in the game's last 1:32 to make even less sense of it all. 4-3 Capitals. (Marty Lapointe 1998 playoffs: 9 goals in 21 games. More than everyone except Sergei, who had 10. And I'm always, always surprised when I re-realize that he was only 24 years old. He looks older in this game than Yzerman does today.)
- 9:53 -- We've come this far without mentioning Esa Tikkanen yet. One of the great performances in Red Wings history as far as I'm concerned: Zero points, a penalty, minus-3 rating, and one of the most indelible images of my childhood:
- Thorne's call is amazing. "Here's the Intercept. Here comes Tikkanen! Osgood down .... AND HE MISSED THE NET! Esa Tikkanen BLEW IT!" And Chris Osgood redeems himself! Poor Esa. The guy won multiple Stanley Cups, yet this might be what he is most known for. I'd say it would have won the game, no question -- but given how the previous 30 minutes had gone, that would be unwise. (And funny how that all started from an Yzerman turnover.)
- 9:06 -- Joe Juneau takes a shot from beyond center ice that Ozzie plays flawlessly. This is worthy of it's own bullet because it is 1998
- 4:15 -- After all of that, a goal was still needed to keep the Wings alive in Game 2. After the Tikkanen miss and how up-and-down things had been, you knew a goal had to come from somewhere, you just didn't know who. I probably would not have bet on it being Doug Brown, let alone Doug Brown basically doing it all by himself.
The shot of the bench afterward = chills. Crazy.
- 4:15 -- 20,000 white people and Orange Hat Guy yelling, "Whoomp There It Is". 4-4.
- 0:08 -- At least 100 people singing that Chumbawamba song. It was the 90s songs that truly kept the Wings in this game. To OT we go.
- 17:36 -- Sergei Gonchar rips one from the blue line and Ozzie comes up with a huge stop. That would have been a slight letdown, I think. Gonchar was wearing a protective face-guard at this point in time so haha to you Gonchar and your gigantic injured bubble-head. Sucks to be you, nerd! I feel better about myself now that I've made fun of 90s Gonchar.
- 14:36 -- Kocur and Tikkanen get into a post-whistle scrum. Kocur simply went to offer his condolences to Esa after he stamped his career with a flaming bag of horse shit one period earlier, and let's say he took it the wrong way.
- 12:57 -- Anders Ericsson gets a nice feed from Igor Larionov and moves in from the left circle for a point-blank shot on Kolzig. Had this game ended with an Anders Ericsson overtime winner, the NHL would still be in a lockout as we waited to finish this series.
- 10:50 -- Kris Draper comes scorching down the right wing and the only Capital defender in front of him trips over the blue line. Drapes goes in on Kolzig -- at this point still looking for his first goal of the playoffs -- and fires his patented, into-the-logo wrister. Another chance gone by. "I'll NEVER score a goal again," I pretend he said to himself, because I'm weird.
- 4:36 -- A few minutes later, Draper comes off the bench as the Shanahan-Larionov-Lapointe line neared the end of a shift. Shanny and Marty were still down in the zone and Draper comes swooping past Kolzig and circles the net. Upon circling back to the slot, Drapes is left all alone and Marty fires a perfect pass. And on Detroit's 60th shot of the game .... Open net, one-timer, game over. 5-4 Red Wings.