The unhinged giddiness of a one game winning streak on the line. The giddy unhingedness of a game between two one-win-streak wonders meeting each other for the last time in a rink steeped in hockey heritage and bad sight lines. So much on the line, not enough on and over the goal line. For us. Again.
I blame the USA. Why not? Everyone else does. If only Canadian teams were allowed in the NHL our current playoff prospects would be better than any other NHL team. Located in the Lower Mainland. But, sour octopuses aside, this season has been one of streaks. A beautiful blue and green streak for four games to start countered by a bigger stinky sinking below 500 streak more recently.
You might expect that once a losing streak (an almost record matching one) has been stopped that it's only right a new, happier and just as long winning streak would follow. You would think that. I would think that. The NHL does not think like that.
Not a bad start in the old Joe - if you don't count the first shift of the game where a clearing attempt gone not far enough away ends by injecting life in the old, smelly Joe. Down 1-zip 30 seconds into the first period on the road has been a recipe for success for the Nucks. Comeback Cookery. Or Kookery. Or...not. It was a sweet tasty dish only when served fresh in the first few games.
No matter. The Nucks have come back on the road to tie and win games in OT. Look at the Cali trip. Just not the trip this season.
No matter, historical trends don't skate well in a game like this. All the Nucks have to do is play the right way and keep it a one goal game going into the 2nd period. And they did. Almost. A late 1st period faceoff loss, little fly-by goalie screen by Bennie the Hut and it's a TWO goal game to start the 2nd. Perfect. Got the Wings right where we want them. Happy and confident.
The Wings got a little loose and the always disciplined and ready-to-pounce Canucks took full advantage. They pressured Howard to give up juicy rebounds, out shooting the Wings by an obscene margin and of course, were rewarded with a rich dose of Nuck puck luck. And headed into the 3rd still down two goals.
What time is it? Why...it's comeback time in the Joe! While some have said the foliage on the Sedinery has lost its healthy points per game lustre and some even want to cut it down and go shop in another nursery, but it's Detroit, people. The Sedins are always good for a goal against Detroit. It's a like a constant, which is a mathematical expression for a variable that never changes. And that is why we pay them the constant big bucks.
For moments like this - the Wings get clipped in their own zone, thanks to a shrewd pruning job at the pointsettia by Strech. The perennial Sedinery unfolds its tick tack toe blossoms that plant Howard in the shrubbery.
Never get tired of seeing the twin inevitability. It's my fav kind of inevitable.
Now it's a one goal game and just one more goal and it's a tie and one more in OT and it's a season record setting road win streak. You might be saying: "jimmi, you're asking for the inevitable disappointment".
And you'd be wrong. I wasn't asking for it. However, the inevitably limited goal quota for the trip was pretty much used up like a cheap NY minute last game. And yet, it was so close to closing - the Nucks applied some great pressure, stole some pucks (which is still legal in Michigan) and got Howard flopping and swimming outside the crease like a 4-armed octopus with a bad ice allergy. And the reward for that sort of game-tieing pressure?
Ott scores with a lucky tip at the other end in the last five minutes of the game. Ott? Really? Yeah, really. So with the hockey gods getting all teary-eyed for the last Nucks game in the old Joe, they perform a miracle. Of malice. Leaving us with a bad taste from an old stinky rinky-dink rink that soon will be ripped up, torn and burned down next year and its ashes sold in little wheelie-wingtip shaped vials on eBay. At least I hope so.
Still... could be worse. Miller, while losing in front of his parents (again), was able to get a standing ovation for an outstanding out-fielder catch. He was skating to the bench for the extra attacker while Zetterberg was skating across center ice for the empty net goal. But, Miller's glove spoke loudest: "Not on my last night in the Joe, motherzucker!"
And that's how I want to remember our last game in the Joe. Defiant to the end. Winning the losing cause.
On a personal note, before and during the game I was a "Pacific Division Expert" guest on a Detroit sports radio show. They couldn't afford a real expert, so they had to settle for "Pacific Division Crankpot". Amongst three Detroit commenters who are knowledgeable and pretty articulate I had to rely on my superior sarcasm to prove that, even in hockey, ignorant interruptions trump rational debate.
Will post the links when available to the two shows (they asked me to stay on the line for their 2nd show in the foolish hope they could make me sound more foolish than I already had - Fools!)
Listen to the first SRD show here. Thanks to Jason, Justin and Steve for correctly predicting a Wings win - you bastards.
And that ends the Nucks Most Horrible Road Trip of the Year. So far. We get to take two days off to reflect on the unexpected and expected events of this week and the Nucks return home to host the Stars on Sunday the 13th. Which is like Friday the 13th, but without all the spooky media coverage. It will be the start or the breaking of a new streak. And we love our streakers, right?