June 02, 2006

The ghost of the WHA...: the Carolina Hurricanes polished off the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final last night, setting up a Stanley Cup battle with Edmonton that features two former World Hockey Association teams battling for Lord Stanley's Cup.

posted by The_Black_Hand to hockey at 06:33 AM - 24 comments

Wow, the WHA...that's a blast from the past. Makes me want to go get my highlight VCR tapes (yeah, they still work in this DVD-gone-crazy world) of Gretzky and his merry band of offensive wizards from the 80s. I never got to see the WHA in action (TV coverage of hockey in the U.S. was pretty light in those days) but Edmonton in the 80s was the next best thing.

posted by donnnnychris at 06:39 AM on June 02, 2006

Did the better team actually win the Carolina/Buffalo series? Did the worse of the two actually lose? I don't know, I think the injuries caught up to Buffalo (two starting defense in the final game) but they gave it a lot of heart. I think those two teams were almost exactly equal. Carolina just won in the injury department. Carolina won, they fought just as hard and good luck to them. Would much rather have seen my Sabres go, of course. I have a feeling that the Buff/Carolina series will end up being a better series than the Stanley Cup. Too bad that wasn't the final. I like the side note of Doug Weight playing against Edmonton. I also like the fact that a Canadian team is in the running for the Cup. Almost seems wrong to not have a Canadian team in the finals.

posted by Stealth_72 at 06:49 AM on June 02, 2006

It was a fantastic series. Although I hate excuses, you do have to think the outcome of a seven-game series that came down to the final period would have been much different had the Sabres not been missing four defensemen and Tim Connolly. Losing Jay McKee for the final game was the final nail in the coffin. With all that, though, it was one of the most entertaining, hard-fought series I've seen in a long time. Living in western New York, if you had told me the Sabres would have made it to game seven of the conference finals several months ago, I'd have fallen over laughing. I can still see that puck just lying there between Fitzpatrick's skates (it seemed like it was there for 10 minutes) and not getting cleared away from in front of the net. Luckily I was able to see the OLN games because they were carried by one of my high-definition channels. Go Oilers!

posted by dyams at 07:06 AM on June 02, 2006

No, Carolina was the better team. Staal, Brind'Amour, Weight, Stillman & Williams were more than the Sabres could handle. But the Sabres are a fast and strong, and when they have even four out of their six defensemen able to walk upright, they have an even shot at beating anyone out there. (Ryan Miller is going to be a monster in this league.) I feel bad for Buffalo. There are few cities for which a championship would have meant more. But they're young, and they'll be back. I hope.

posted by chicobangs at 07:29 AM on June 02, 2006

That was an fantastic series, completed in a terrific game seven, and settled in a awesome final period. I got nothing left to say. It was great.

posted by 86 at 07:31 AM on June 02, 2006

I think you'll be happy with the calibre of the finals. Edmonton is another good skating team. Buffalo almost pulled it off. Those injuries are just too much to recover from, though. Just too beat up. Can't win the Cup with 4 rookies and castoffs on D anyway.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:55 AM on June 02, 2006

I think I hate Rod Brind'amour. Buffalo lost not only because of their defense injuries, but also because of the sudden inability of Drury, Afinigenov, Kotalik, etc. to score goals this series. I said before the game that is it came down to a third period/overtime, Carolina would probably win, because the Carolina ice would be terrible by then, and Buffalo's style is lots of quick passing, which just isn't possible on that kind of ice. And I think it showed. Why does the best hockey of the year always have to be played on the worst ice of the year? Bettman -- pay attention: If you insist on this ridiculously long season, at least start it in September so it's not 30 degrees outside during the finals.

posted by fabulon7 at 08:06 AM on June 02, 2006

That's going to be one of the upsides of Edmonton being in it. The ice is going to be perfect there.

posted by chicobangs at 08:11 AM on June 02, 2006

Can't win the Cup with 4 rookies and castoffs on D anyway. Jeff Jilson, man! He was supposed to be next Bobby Orr. But you're right, you could just feel the Buffalo defense corps not being able to give anything more in the 3rd period. The Sabres should have won game 5, really. That's where they lost the series. In the end, as much as I hate them for eliminating the three teams I root for in a row, the Hurricanes just played better. Hats off to them!

posted by qbert72 at 08:12 AM on June 02, 2006

How can you hate Rod Brind'amour. Leave the poor guy be. AS the ugliest man in hockey, he has enough going against him already. I was just happy to see good hockey. Some of the series this playoffs were awesome. The Oilers, Sharks series was some of the best hockey I have seen in years. Hopefully enough people watched this year to get the NHL back on real TV. Next years is the year of the penguin(If they are still in pittsburgh)

posted by Debo270 at 08:49 AM on June 02, 2006

I don't know anything about Ryan Miller, so this is not a judgement of him overall at all ... but does anyone know or has heard what the deal was on Carolina's 4th goal?! Did he think it was already in the net or something? After stopping the initial shot, it just looked he sat on his bum with his back to the ongoing play and made no effort to recover.

posted by littleLebowski at 08:55 AM on June 02, 2006

Time for a little Brass Bonanza??

posted by tommybiden at 09:37 AM on June 02, 2006

That's going to be one of the upsides of Edmonton being in it. The ice is going to be perfect there. That wasn't exactly the case when, a week ago, it was 30C+ in Edmonton.

posted by mkn at 10:34 AM on June 02, 2006

All year John Davidson (on Rangers telecasts) has been pointing out that the delay of game penalty was being called strictly, but he wasn't sure it should stay that way. He would say something along the lines of, 'It makes sense now, but can you imagine a game seven, after a long series, and the whole thing turns on a defenseman accidently flipping the puck into the stands?' He said this nearly every time it happened in the regular season from about January on. To his creidt I don't think he said "I told you so" last night, but he should have. Personally, I like the rule and I think it's the players' fault that now they have to call it, but it does suck that the game and the series-winning goal came on such a power play.

posted by 86 at 10:46 AM on June 02, 2006

That's true. JD would say that at least once every game, and every game, I would say back to the screen, "Yes, matter of fact, I can imagine that. It's a rule, it's no surprise to anyone, it's there for a reason, and it does its job fine. It's not 1973 anymore, pal. Deal with it." (I'm paraphrasing, of course. Usually, there's more cussing.)

posted by chicobangs at 11:50 AM on June 02, 2006

Amen chico. I really enjoyed watching this series. Rod Brind'amour was a man on a mission, and the goaltending was downright spectacular at times. I don't think it was a case of the team that wanted it more won, both teams gave it their all.

posted by MrFrisby at 12:16 PM on June 02, 2006

I miss going to whalers games. My old man had decent corporate seats and sometimes he would get box seats (ice lvl) from Norm Barnes (former whale defensemen). Brass bonanza is still the greatest post goal celebration song.

posted by viricide at 02:56 PM on June 02, 2006

For you interested WHA fans, here's a little history. AS the ugliest man in hockey... I beg to differ. Ricci is.

posted by wingnut4life at 03:45 PM on June 02, 2006

I was wondering if Ricci was going to be brought into the ugly contest. Quality person and always gives his all on the ice. Women go crazy over him??

posted by BrownDuck at 03:57 PM on June 02, 2006

I was ecstatic to see Briere have a good playoff run. He and Juha Ylonen were the only players I really fell in love with as a Coyotes fan.

posted by mullacc at 04:31 PM on June 02, 2006

While I understand the magnitude of the Sabres' injuries and how they effected the defensive play, let's not forget that Erik Cole, one of Carolina's best offensive players, has been out since March. I have a ton of respect for the Sabres for the season they've had and the fight they put up against the 'Canes, but if their defense had been healthy and Cole had been in the series, well, I think the outcome would've been largely the same. I'm just sayin'.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:45 PM on June 02, 2006

Half their defense. And Connolly. C'mon, Buff would have romped had they been healthy.

Carolina rocked, that's for sure, but Buffalo was able to keep it close with an AHL defense. Had Buffalo been able to stay healthy, they would have beaten them handily in 5 or 6.

posted by diastematic at 06:17 PM on June 02, 2006

Most of the injured buffalo defensemen are not top notch anyway. Connolly was the big loss. (IMHO It was nice seeing all those kids from Rochester really make that team what it is. Canes will beat the Oilers. 5 Games. Oilers - who'd they play? A way way over rated Red Wings - who feasted on cellar dweller teams to the tune of 24-4 this year and then went a little over 500 for the rest of the year. Not a surprise they went home. The quacks - they never showed up!! The Sharks - they laid down and quit after game two - it was embarrassing Hockey. Now come the Canes. The Oilers are in for a big shock. Gretzy dumped canada long ago - they are a fluke!

posted by storagepro at 10:23 PM on June 02, 2006

what a comeback by the 'canes from 3-0 down--even with Killa Cam not having his best game! I'd like to see Brind'amour and Weight hoist the Cup.

posted by curtangle at 11:17 PM on June 05, 2006

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