Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No such thing as momentum

Allow me a hockey interjection. For the Canucks' sake.

I am not the biggest hockey fan. I play fantasy hockey and have won my league a few times, so that says something, I think. But I do not watch any regular season hockey games. However, come playoff time, the voyage to the Stanley Cup always gets me. I tune in for the NHL playoffs.

My latest tune-in happened last night, game seven in Vancouver. The Vancouver Canucks, the winners of the President's Trophy for the most points in the regular season, were at one point up three games to none in this best of seven. These same Canucks are, as some bigger hockey fans than myself have proclaimed, kind of the 90's Buffalo Bills of the NHL, for a comparison us Americans can grip. They were often very good, occasionally one of the best, yet could never win.

They had whatever it is in sports that makes fan bases feel like a certain team cannot possibly win, like a psychic was reading their tarot cards and picked a grim.

Vancouver was up 3-0 in the best of seven, with the best team in the league, supposedly. They went on to lose game four and game five. At this point, their star goaltender Roberto Luongo was benched for game six. I assume to help build his confidence...

During game six, Luongo's replacement gets hurt on a penalty shot and he is forced into mop-up action, and Vancouver goes on to lose again. The number one seed loses three straight, forced to return home for a game seven. They are obviously doomed.

Game seven progresses, only one goal is scored for much of the game. Luongo is doing what he needs to, keeping the defending champion Blackhawks out of the net. Vancouver is winning 1-0 with three minutes remaining in game seven at home. And, they get a power play!

Let's recap what I just said for emphasis. The number one seed, best team in the NHL, Vancouver Canucks, after blowing a 3-0 series lead, is back at home in game seven, winning 1-0 with just a couple minutes remaining and they get a power play.

Then Scott Norwood came in and kicked wide right.

Chicago's Jonathan Toews steals the puck around center ice, skates down, splitting two defenders, falling to his knees, forces a wobbly pass over to Marian Hossa, who puts one on net. The rebound trickles out to Toews, still on the ice, who somehow forces the shorthanded tying goal past Luongo with less than two minutes remaining in the game. They are obviously doomed.

The sports fan in all of us, at this point, sees that there is no way Vancouver can possibly come back to win this in overtime. The momentum, the grim is too powerful.

And yet, five minutes into the first OT, Alex Burrows flips in the series clinching goal for the Canucks, for Luongo, for the city of Vancouver and we all remember there is no such thing as momentum.

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