Friday, May 7, 2010


It's like a sound effect.

Shout it out with me: "LETANG"

Don't worry if your co-workers start popping their heads out of their cubicles to ask what your problem is. Just open your mouth and let it fly:


That's the sound a puck makes when it ricochets off someone's skate and into the net.

Particularly last night when it was Penguin Kris Letang's skate that caused the deflection.


It may be the sound that changed everything in the NHL East playoffs.

But let me back up a bit.

You play an entire hockey season just to get your team in the playoffs. As the Washington Capitals found out - first place after 82 games gets you exactly one extra home game - which only comes into play if the series goes 7 games - by which time you opponent has already beaten you 3 times, knows you pretty well, and has a good chance to neutralize that advantage.

In the NHL’s Eastern conference this year - three of the top 4 finishers were bounced from the playoffs in the first round. The Capitals, Devils, and Sabres all were sent home while the Flyers, Bruins and Canadiens advanced.

But the defending champs - the Pittsburgh Penguins - did find a way to get past Ottawa and into round 2.

And to Sidney Crosby this must look like a dream come true. All of the teams that the Penguins were most worried about have fallen out of their path to the finals. Instead of facing the Devils or Sabres this round the mighty Penguins opponent is just Montreal.

But for a proud and tradition-rich Canadiens team - the mission is clear. Having stunned the hockey world by beating the high flying number one seeded Washington Capitals - can they once again do the impossible by defeating the world champion Penguins?

Last night in game four Montreal was desperately trying to avoid a 3-1 series deficit against heavily favored Pittsburgh. And when the Penguins scored twice in the first six minutes on Thursday night - it started to look grim for the Habs

Crosby and company held the lead for more than 40 minutes of ice time - until Maxim Lapierre (isn't that a great name?) tied it on a wraparound goal at 2:07 of the third period.

2 goals each. Tie game.

And then, then less than 2 minutes later it happened.

Brian Gionta was on the right side of the offensive zone trying to make a play. He didn't even shoot the puck - he just made a centering pass - a pass that did not find any of his teammates.

But it didn't have to.

Like a laser beam the puck struck a Pittsburgh player's skate. Penguin Kris Letang was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And the sound of a hard rubber disc puck striking a metal skate blade was unmistakable:


The puck caromed off Kris Letang's skate - and straight at the Penguins' goal. Marc-Andre Flurry wasn't expecting it and never had a chance. The puck found twine - - the buzzer sounded - the goal light went on - and from there the Canadiens held on for a 3-2 win – new life - and a tied series that will continue Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

The fluke goal keeps Montreal out of. 3-1 hole and grabs the momentum back for the Canadiens. Despite being outshot 35-25 the Habs won. Montreal’s Halak out played Fleury in goal and his team wins the day.

Can Montreal take advantage of their good fortune? Can they parlay this lucky bounce into a series win?

We'll know more on Saturday night at 7pm. I don't know about you - but I'm rooting for Montreal (and against Sid).

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