Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Revisiting The Nedved Game

A slow Tuesday night turned out to be the perfect time for the 10 Greatest Penguins Games DVD Package to arrive. I have several issues with the games they have chosen, although I understand the reasoning behind most choices. Laying down all tasks at hand, Sam and I began tearing through them. The first period of Lemieux's five goal game against the Flyers in the playoffs is must see. Mario's shoddy playoff beard...Coffey flying around...Bob Erey doing Bob Erey things...blatant elbows thrown at Hextall...throw in FOUR first period goals by Lemieux and you have the best first period you will ever watch.

When we decided to watch the Nedved game, however, we quickly realized that we wouldn't be watching any other games that night. It might seem like a lot of hockey to watch, but if you start watching this game, you Can. Not. Stop.

Simply put, Game 4 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Quarters between the Pens and Caps is one of the best hockey games ever, certainly one of the best games I've ever seen. Sam and I had trouble remembering parts (we were young...it was late...) but what becomes clear very quickly is the level of intensity that the game was infused with. Sometime around the end of regulation I realized that I should be taking notes. I'm sure everyone remembers Nedved sliding down the ice on his knees after rifling home the game winner, but these are some of the things we forgot about/never realized in the first place. If you have the means/time/mental endurance, then watching this game will teach you all you could ever hope to learn about playoff hockey.

Some notes from a trip down memory lane...

- Steve Levy needs to do hockey commentating somewhere. End of story.

- The ESPN2 graphics are so faux-edgy. I can't really explain them. If you like loud colors and non-linear shapes then you could probably be the Executive Design Artist for ESPN2 in 1996.
- The Washington crowd is awful at the end of regulation. Just awful. It is the playoffs. Against a rival. Three minutes left in the third. And you are dead silent? Really? No chanting? Nothing? You can't waive a stupid towel? I want a serious Caps fan to defend their fans during this stretch. I think it is impossible to do so. They are awful down the stretch. And don't give me the fatigue excuse - this was regulation.

- Legion of Doom references are dropped a few times. Oh to be in the mid-90s.

- Sam channeled some kind of mystic spirit and remembered that JJ Daigneault had a huge game. I laughed at first. And then I sat in awe as JJ was all over the place.
- quote from Sam: "You wanna know how I know we are going to win? Cause they have Gonchar covering Jagr all the time. That is a recipe for disaster."

- The save Ken Wregget makes at 6:43 in the first overtime is just gross. Definition of flashing the glove. He watches it all the way in.

- Daryl Ray (Levy's color guy) brings up how Wregget only makes 400,000k a year.

- And speaking of Wregget...holy crap. I love fawning over Barasso stats from the early 90s (just because everyone hates the guy and I like to play devil's advocate), but I dont think that ANYONE could argue with Wregget's performance in this game. Otherworldly. Sublime. All positive adjectives times ten.
- The mugging in the mid-90s is just out of control. Mario's back probably creaks every time somebody presses play on one of these DVDs. If you have the DVD, check out the 9:20 mark in the 2nd OT. It is an out-and-out arm tackle that breaks up the Caps fastbreak.

- Halfway through the 2nd OT: Gonchar's ice time is 48 minutes and Zubov's is 54 minutes. I just puked on myself.

- I knew it was coming. So did Sam. Five minutes left, Joe Juneau and Tamer on the ice. Puck dances on it's edge towards an unguarded net. Tamer knocks it away, but knocks the net over. Take me there Steve Levy....


Awful exectuion by Juneau. Puck bobbles in almost the whole way. Terrible shot. Then again, even Mario couldn't have scored on Wregget tonight.

- Only one word can define the skirmishes in front of the Capitals net at the 10:15 mark: desire.

- another gem from Sam: "how about the stamina of the jumbotron and sound guys? All night, they keep trying to pump up the crowd and give them some life. And that crowd sucks too! Phenomenal effort."

- Nedved's shot navigates through roughly 25 different bodies and finds the net at the end of the 4th OT. Phew.

- The look on Gonchar's face when Nedved drives it home...I mean, that is why I watch sports. To see soft, whiny little defensemen look utterly stunned and dejected and like they want to go back to Mother Russia and cry on her shoulder. And also so those defensemen can be on my team 10 years later. Karma, I suppose. Or something.
I'm exhausted. What a game.
End of Post


Richard Marcej said...

I was living in Kansas city at the time (about as far away from hockey as you can get) and because the NHL was ONLY being telecast on the Sports Channel Network, had to watch the playoffs in a bar. Having to sit through that entire game in a bar, and hoe that they didn't close before it ended!!!

As for the 10 best Pens games, I would have included the game where Mario scored the
• Regular goal
• PP goal
• SH goal
• Penalty shot
• Empty netter
vs. New Jersey.

stokes said...

Right on Richard. I CAN'T BELIEVE that it wasn't even in the running. you couldn't vote for it. Ridiculous.

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