Sunday, April 29, 2007

From Stemmer to Rosie...It's A Winner Either Way!

How appropriate it was today at Madison Square Garden that the New York Rangers would win a thrilling 2-1 Game 3 over the Buffalo Sabres. Why you ask? Well, it was on this date in 1971 that Pete Stemkowski scored the game winner at 1:29 of the third overtime to propel the Blueshirts into a Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was "Stemmer's" second OT winner of the series. Today, the cornerstone of a currently very good and potentially great future defense, netted the game winner in the second longest hockey game at MSG - second of course to the above mentioned game 36 years ago. For Michal Rozsival would cut Buffalo's series lead in half with a blast through traffic past Ryan Miller, 16:43 into the second OT.

You will hear much about the officiating in this one - putrid at best. The video guys up in Toronto blowing a call on Karel Rachunek's obvious goal. But that's for another time. Today, was a great game. This afternoon was endless action up and down the soupy Garden ice. The NHL shined on Broadway with a matinee that gave everyone their money's worth. Jaromir Jagr, who scored the Blueshirts' only allowed goal in regulation, was a man possessed, turning the clock back and skating with such power and speed that he looked unstoppable. Sean Avery, invisible during the first two games of the series, was inside Derrick Roy's head all afternoon. I expect Roy could be joining some of the Atlanta Thrashers on a couch if Avery keeps it up. Henrik Lundqvist made saves for the Rangers that only a superhuman could make. But, if Lundqvist was preternatural, what adjectives could I use to describe Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller? The Rangers would have scored five minimum against a goalie with even a fraction of lesser skills. This, my friends, was hockey at its best.

Even the nauseating frivolity of Pierre McGuire was tolerable. Of course, Doc Emerick showed why he is one of the best play-by-play guys in sports. Particularly, when McGuire compared the cut he has on his head from being hit by an errant stick to the birthmark on former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Emerick didn't even miss a beat, adding that Gorby was a former Nobel Peace Prize winner (1990).

But it was Rozsival's day to shine. Showing no effects of a knee injury he sustained in Game 1, "Rosie" logged an astounding 38:16 of ice time. Just as Stemmer's goal brought down the house at the conclusion of a marathon, Rozsival did the same. Although, Buffalo still holds the series lead, the great thing is we get to do it again Tuesday night at MSG. I love this game!

Stay Onsides!

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