And we’re back. Everyone rested? Feeling good? Hope so, it takes a lot of energy to deal with the intensity of knowing what’s going to happen. Or something.
Before we get started, something I found odd that maybe someone smarter than me has the answer to. I know that this is the 25th anniversary of the 1987 series so showing it on TV this week makes a certain amount of sense but isn’t it also the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series? Isn’t that a monumentally more important hockey event? Or is this like that Patton Oswalt bit about how you only get 20 birthdays? Even though, in said theory, you’d still get to celebrate your 40th. Maybe this comparison doesn’t work. I don’t know. Just seems kind of odd to me that there’s all this kerfuffle about the ’87 series and I haven’t heard mention one about ’72. Or perhaps I just needed something to obsess over that’s even more pointless than usual. I should have brought the bourbon.
Pre-Game: TSN is running a trade center for CBA negotiations today. Well, it’s really just James Duthie and his cronies talking about it. It’s depressing for so many reasons.
Pre-Game!: Mike Johnson is our host once again, letting us know that Canada is facing a “must-win” with all the enthusiasm as one of those videos they show before a shitty ride at Universal Studios. He has dead eyes. They’re following me. Stop it, Mike Johnson.
PRE-GAME: “It’s win or accept defeat,” the opening montage states. Did anyone tell the guys at TSN that this series has already happened? Or at they just letting them pretend it’s live so they don’t all go insane due to the lockout?
20:00, 1st period: The TSN “analysis” took 5 minutes. Just start the game, guys. Mercifully, we’re off at…Copps Coliseum? Really? Okay.
19:17, 1st period: Canada comes out in their red uniforms (which must have just pissed off the Russians) and score 43 seconds into the game. Great passing play to Normand Rochefort. The lack of tension is back and we’re just getting started. Strap in. Also of note, in goal for the Russians this game is Evgeny Belosheikin instead of Mylnikov. In Soviet Russia, giving up 6 goals means you lose your job.
18:36, 1st period: Fuhr fully just threw a punch. Except it was a terrible punch. Not just because it was barely a swipe but because it pulled him out of position allowing the Russians to get a shot on net before burying the rebound. I still don’t know if one could call this “good” hockey but it’s definitely exciting. In that “two straight fumbles followed by a pick six” way that football can be.
18:18, 1st period: Doug’s in the box wearing a vacant, Vinny Chase stare as he contemplates what he’s done. Then his eyes get sad as if he realized that he just took a penalty when he almost surely shouldn’t have. Now he’s pissed while simultaneously looking like he could jump on the ice at any moment. This all happened in the span of 10 seconds. Gilmour’s the best.
16:30, 1st period: For all the talk of the Soviets being the “reds” or the “Red Army” or other communism/colour/co-relations, there’s a joke to be made about Canada playing in red to their white. I don’t know what it is yet; hopefully we find it before the night is over.
16:28, 1st period: Gilmour comes out of the penalty box and scores! You could not make this up. I honestly didn’t know that was going to happen. This almost wipes the memory of Gilmour coming back to the Leafs in 2004 to play a grand total of 7 seconds. Almost. Now I’m sad.
15:06, 1st period: And now it’s Canada to the power play as Semenov goes off. There are a shocking amount of penalties in this series. I know you could attribute this to intense play but I think it’s just sloppiness. Reach your zenith, ’87 series!
14:23: 1st period: Our first TSN factoid of the evening tells us that Beverly Hills Cop II was the hit movie of the summer of 1987. I assume this is because Johnson and his panel haven’t been on TV for the last 15 minutes and TSN needed to put something utterly pointless on the air. “We haven’t bored our audience in a while, quick; tell them a movie people liked in 1987.”
12:56, 1st period: Hawerchuk takes a rebound and skates out to the faceoff circle, spins around and rips a slap shot with nobody around him. This would never happen today. If your plan to score is the same as mine in NHL 94, you might want to re-evaluate your game.
Commercial Break: Of the 13 commercials I’ve seen so far on the broadcast tonight, 10 are the same as last night. This isn’t a surprise but it is a disappointment. I wish they were going whole hog here and showing commercials for 1987. If you’re going to tell me that Beverly Hills Cop II was a success, at least show me a trailer.
11:36, 1st period: Belosheikin just cut off an outlet pass by coming about six feet out of his net. Forward play may be a lot smoother in the ’80s than it is today, the same cannot be said for goalie play. It’s just brutal to watch. I know a lot of this is due to the pads and the style of play in front of them but, still, brutal.
10:58, 1st period: Is cross checking a new penalty or something? I’ve seen so many in the last two nights that just haven’t been called. Get it together, Koharski.
10:26, 1st period: Finally, four on four action. It’s…odd. While there’s a lot more open ice for the players to move, it’s almost as if the sloppiness has increased. I don’t mean to keep beating a dead horse here, and I don’t want to sound like one of those young’uns who just don’t appreciate the good ol’ game, but this is just so goddamn sloppy. Yeah, it’s exciting but so is March Madness. Actually, that’s a pretty good comparison. Watching this tournament is kind of like watching March Madness – it’s really entertaining and exciting and you never know what is going to happen one minute to the next but, as a basketball fan, you can just tell you’re watching an inferior product. Threes get launched without a second thought, set plays are barely set before they’re played, etc. The Canada Cup kind of feels the same. Except the Canada Cup has Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux which automatically makes it better. Okay, it’s not a perfect comparison.
10:04, 1st period: Hey, another penalty. Shock of all shocks. Messier goes off and we now have some 4 on 3 hockey. This should be interesting.
9:07, 1st period: This is more like it. The Soviets are absolutely pouring it on. After a rocket off the post, Fuhr is forced to make five brilliant saves before the Russians finally put it in the back of the net but the goal is called off due to goalie interference. That was ridiculous but now I’m kind of pissed because it sort of went against everything I’ve been saying all night. Whatever, I’ll take the trade off of me being wrong (which happens pretty constantly, anyway) and being entertained.
8:00, 1st period: The Soviets are skating like gangbusters here, going in and out of any and all Canadians that choose to get in their way. However, Fuhr is totally keeping the Canadians in this one while playing miles better than he did in game 1. Also, the crowd at Copps Coliseum is pretty dang awesome. Maybe a team in Hamilton wouldn’t be a horrible thi-oh, God, what am I saying?!
7:19, 1st period: Oh, right, Wayne Gretzky is amazing. He just singled-handedly fought off a defender, found the loose puck and pushed the puck perfectly along the ice to the stick of Paul Coffey. 3-1 Canada. Gorgeous, gorgeous goal. Gretzky is currently the leading scorer of the tournament despite only scoring 3 goals. Ridiculous.
5:18, 1st period: Belosheikin just came way out of his net again. Is this some sort of 1980s strategy? Is this that reflex Duran Duran kept talking about? (No, that will not be the last new wave joke I make in the next couple days. I’m recapping something from the ’80s. What do you expect?)
3:13, 1st period: He just did it again. And almost got completely burned as Canada misses a wide open net. This is some of the dumbest goaltending I’ve ever seen. And I’m a Leafs fan. I remember Corey Schwab. (Is that two Corey Schwab references in two nights? I think it is. I like this. I think this might continue. By the end of tomorrow’s blog I may have to resort to Benoit Hogue references. Don’t fight it. Just let it happen. If I get into the bourbon, Sylvain Cote is coming too.)
0:32, 1st period: TSN totally makes up for their horrible factoids with one of the best factoids I’ve ever seen about anything – “Gartner was one of 7 Canadians with moustaches, no Soviets had one.” Way to make Stalin proud, boys.
End of the First Period: That was a fun 20 minutes. Standing ovation from the Hamilton crowd as Canada leaves the ice. Hamilton has been more impressive than anything so far. That is probably the first time that sentence has ever been said. The Hammer!
20:00, 2nd period: I was reminded by a post on Facebook (and Wikipedia. Love you, Wikipedia) that this game is often considered to be the best hockey game ever played. I think I’ve made my opinion clear on the quality of play after one period, but, knowing how this ends, I’m curious to see if the excitement is enough to elevate it to that level. We shall see.
19:17, 2nd period: The Copps Coliseum logo at center ice is one of the most ’80s looking logos I’ve ever seen. Obviously, I think it’s totally amazing. Hamilton is just raking in the good will today.
18:33, 2nd period: Hartsburg tries to clear the puck but fails because hah, Craig Hartsburg (hadn’t had one of those yet today) and Fuhr bails him out by making yet another great save. Fuhr came to play in game 2. At least so far.
17:33, 2nd period: Ads on the side boards of Copps – McDonald’s Labatt Blue, Chrysler, Westin Hotels…so basically the same as at the Forum. Except with Bauer instead of Kone. I guess that makes sense. Just keeping you guys updated.
16:44, 2nd period: Coffey springs Gartner with a beautiful outlet pass leading to a breakaway that gets turned aside by Belosheikin. That pass was absolutely stupid. Something tells me this Coffey guy might be pretty good. (Yes, I had to hold back from making a Mr. Coffee joke. Because this is the ’80s. So obviously.)
14:11, 2nd period: Canada seems to have been lulled into a state of dump-and-chase. Maybe Pat Quinn is actually The Doctor and went back in time to tell Mike Keenan how to be a terrible coach. I mean, probably not, but you never know.
13:10, 2nd period: I feel like I’ve been resistant to admitting this so far in these blogs but, I will admit, the level of play going on right now is staggeringly high. The sloppiness has been cut way down and each player is playing to his man and playing them well. Clearing attempts are successful and passes are wonderfully tape to tape. I’m starting to get it.
12:49, 2nd period: Stelnov goes to the box for holding and Canada heads to the power play. Form feet and legs! Form Voltron!
10:57, 2nd period: Canada throws shot after shot at Belosheikin but can’t put one in the net. Best save of the bunch came in close on Hawerchuk who gets robbed once again. For a guy who doesn’t seem to know where the net is, Belosheikin certainly knows how to somehow get in front of it.
9:21, 2nd period: Grant Fuhr has one of the best goalie leans ever. What is a goalie lean, you ask? It’s when a goalie leans on the net with one arm while there’s a scuffle behind the net after the whistle. Zero fucks are given during Fuhr’s goalie lean. It’s amazing.
Also, one of the refs looks like Colm Feore and doesn’t wear a helmet. He’s a boss.
7:49, 2nd period: Fetisov lets a bullet rip from the point that beats a totally screened Fuhr to bring the Soviets within one. That power play looked just like a modern power play, crazy. (Note: may not be that crazy)
6:43, 2nd period: Gartner rips a shot right into Belosheikin’s glove and then Belosheikin proceeds to skate to damn near the blue line before the ref calls for a faceoff. That was odd. It also reminded me of when I was a kid and I’d play hockey video games and would be told that the goalie “iced” the puck and I thought that it would be referring to some sort of move where the goalie covered the puck in ice. I was a really stupid child.
5:43, 2nd period: Voltron is formed but is quickly dismantled as the Soviets score shorthanded prompting a TSN factoid to let us know that the Soviets had 6 shorthanded goals in the tournament while all other teams had 5. Combined. That’s pretty insane.
4:14, 2nd period: Hartsburg tries to go 1 on 4. On the power play. It goes about as well as you’d expect because hah, Craig Hartsburg.
3:28, 2nd period: Gretzky and Lemieux break out on a 2 on 1, avoid offsides and…it’s Gretzky and Lemieux on a 2 on 1, what the hell do you think happened? 4-3 Canada.
3:28, 2nd period: AMAZING banner in the crowd (between two people) that reads “Hamilton – A World Class City.” Do your thing, Hamilton. You’re killing it tonight.
Commercial Break: I will never understand how chocolate milk somehow became the drink of choice for exercise ads. I don’t know if it’s true and is actually good for you, I don’t know if it helps build muscle, I don’t even know if it should be ingested when not working out. All I know is that chocolate milk is amazing and I hope this trend continues.
0:32, 2nd period: Coffey hauls down his man and gives the ref a hilarious “I didn’t do nothin’” move with his hands. It works, no penalty. That was such a penalty.
End of the Second Period: Okay, that was an absolutely incredible period of hockey. Off the charts awesome going on here. Great stuff. Also, speaking of great stuff, Gretzky has 3 assists so far (see what I did there?). Just sayin’.
20:00, 3rd period: Excitement.
19:07, 3rd period: I’ve discussed goalie positioning today but something I don’t think of touched on is the way goalies in the ’80s looked when trying to make a save. They really just throw their limbs whichever way they need to, making them look like they’re doing some sort of really awkward dance. It’s kind of hilarious to watch and even more hilarious if you imagine it out of context. There’s still a certain amount of this today but it’s not quite as awkward as it once was. I wish this was still the case. Hockey’s viewership would increase just from all the GIF makers.
17:15, 3rd period: Gartner goes through pretty much the entire Soviet team before ripping a shot wide. I know this wasn’t exactly news to begin with, but if there’s anything I’ll have taken away from watching this series, it’s that Mike Gartner was really, really good.
15:36, 3rd period: Something I’ve noticed is that there’s a distinct lack of blocked shots in these games. Or, at least, intentionally blocked shots. I’m sure this is a product of new padding or shin guards or what have you, but I just find it interesting how huge a role shot blocking now plays in the game today and how non-existent it was only 25 years ago.
15:15, 3rd period: Bykov ties this mother up with a pretty goal past a sprawling Fuhr. Oh yeah, this is going to get fun. I can tell already. I’m a full period ahead of my excitement levels from last night. I’m hoping this is a thing that holds steady for the rest of the series. Narcissism!
13:04, 3rd period: I know it was only 25 years ago but the picture quality for this broadcast is really quite impressive. It’s just as good as watching hockey in standard definition would be today. I don’t know if TSN cleaned up the feed or what but, to me at least, this is surprising. Then again, I’m an idiot so this could all be moot. Heh…moot.
Commercial Break: Least surprising thing of the day – an Axe deodorant ad that makes me feel like a douchebag just for watching it. The premise: premature perspiration (admittedly a kind of clever pun); guys sweat as soon as they meet girls, causing massive pit stains and an abundance of bros’ O-faces. Bro-faces, duh. That was awful.
11:14, 3rd period: We have our first mullet sighting! Oh, I’ve been waiting for this since we started. I can’t believe it took this long. And he was wearing a jean jacket. Oh, that was the best. That poor kid. I hope he failed in achieving his dreams.
9:46, 3rd period: Voltron puts together another beauty as Gretzky to Lemieux leads to another goal because of course it does. This is followed by one of the most awkward goal celebrations I’ve ever seen as Gretzky seems to want to jump around with Mario and Lemieux seems to want to slam into the boards, leading to a very odd looking bear hug. It’s hilarious and adorable and they’re the absolute best.
7:49, 3rd period: Lemieux fights off three Soviets with one arm like he’s a Patrick Swayze out to avenge his father (Wolverines!) but can’t find anyone to pass the puck to. So, yeah, Lemieux was kind of good.
5:56, 3rd period: It should be obvious just based on the level of talent on the ice, but Canada’s defensive corps is shockingly good. There have been numerous odd man rushes in favour of the Soviets this game that have met the immovable object that is the Canadian D. It’s incredibly impressive to watch. So this is what defense looks like. I should send Brian an e-mail and tell him to watch this.
3:54, 3rd period: Fuhr makes a save from his ass and then falls back down when he tries to stand up. I’ll say this for this Canada team; they sure know how to make me smile.
3:00, 3rd period: Another relic from hockey broadcasting’s past, in lieu of an on-screen clock, small shots of the scoreboard clock were superimposed in the bottom left corner of the screen to show how much time was left every now and then. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of these shots clearly had never held a camera before, leading to an incredibly shaky clock and, what I imagine was, mass confusion. Or at least dizziness.
1:04, 3rd period: Kamensky scores an absolutely ridiculous goal to tie the game with just over a minute remaining. I think he stole that move from Lemieux. Seriously, that was insane. You should see it for yourselves. Oh, that’s right, it isn’t actually 1987 so I can show you. (Goal is around 5:25 of that clip)
End of the Third Period: For the second straight game, we head to overtime. This series must have been the most stressful thing for hockey fans. Good God.
Intermission Break: Mike Johnson holds up a hockey stick that is from, what one assumes, the game we’re currently watching and the rest of the panel are all “ooooh, a hockey stick.” It’s stupid. Put the game back on.
20:00, 2OT: For…timing’s sake, I guess, TSN decided to jump straight to the second overtime of this game. I’d look it up on YouTube and fill you in but I was distracted by a shot of Kelly Hrudy’s mullet. It’s hypnotic. What’s that, Kelly’s Mullet? You want me to stroke you? No, I couldn’t possibly. Uh…sorry. Oh, why’s Kelly Hurdy there? Apparently he was Canada’s backup goalie in this tournament. I don’t know, either.
18:08, 2OT: Gilmour essentially attacks Belosheikin to try and get the puck as someone finally notices that he’s been playing nine feet out of his net all night. It’s a good idea but doesn’t work as Belosheikin shows why he’s allowed to play that way and easily moves out of Gilmour’s way. That was impressive.
16:32, 2OT: Here’s a question. Would we be watching this right now if Canada had lost the series? Just say, hypothetically, the Soviets were to score right now and Canada goes home empty handed. That wouldn’t make this game any less incredible. It wouldn’t change the fact that this is some of the most incredibly hockey ever played (yes, I’ve come around, shut up). But would be revere it as we do today? Would we have a three day special on TSN if the tournament had ended in a silver medal for the Canadians? I somehow doubt it. Someone call Pierre, he’ll know. Wait, no, don’t do that. Don’t do that ever.
16:20, 2OT: A shot of the Soviets’ bench shows that their water bottles seem to be sponsored by Yoo-Hoo. Yeah, the chocolate drink. I’m assuming it’s just a bottle and they’re actually drinking water but imagine if they’re not. Was Yoo-Hoo a thing for the Soviets? Should we have let them win the Cold War so we could live in a world of chocolate being united with milk? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
14:56, 2OT: Larry Murphy slides the most blatant hand pass ever to Gilmour and gets immediately whistled for it followed by Murphy looking at the ref like “what?” What the fuck do you think, Larry? God, I hate Larry Murphy. Don’t ask me why. It’s the same reason I hate Jay Beagle. I don’t know why but I do. Don’t ask me to rationalize my thoughts. It can’t be done. Many psychologists have tried and subsequently failed.
14:32, 2OT: Fuhr makes a great save on Krutov in close. I know I said it yesterday but it’s doubly true for an elimination game in double overtime. If I were cheering for Canada and watching this live I would be freaking the fuck out.
13:37, 2OT: Canada comes so, so close to scoring because Belosheikin doesn’t know how to cover the puck and almost poke it by him as he stands straight up. It’s some of the most awkward goalie positioning ever and it almost costs him.
11:59, 2OT: Dump and chase! Dump and chase! Dump and chase! Dump and chase!
9:53, 2OT: And the game ends in the only manner it could – Lemieux completes the hat trick on a feed from Gretzky. Lemieux barely celebrates; the rest of the team does not share that notion. It’s pretty awesome. We have another 6-5 final here.
So, okay, yes, that game was absolutely incredible. I don’t know if I can say it’s better than the gold medal final from 2010 purely because it lacks the impact of being live and the outcome being uncertain. And the whole, you know, being alive at the time thing. That aside, I can totally see why that game is held so high in the minds of hockey fans. Phenomenal stuff. We have one game left; let’s see how it measures up. See you tomorrow, boys and girls.