I just gave away the ending. Sorry.

You can find Game 1 and Game 2 here and here, respectively.

So, I was at a bar last night and one of the TVs had Sportscenter on. As one does when one has TVADD (the phenomenon that requires one to constantly glance at TVs scattered around the bar, regardless of the content of the current conversation) I was catching a little bit of the show here and a little bit of the show there. At one point, I saw something familiar. Game 2. I quickly realized it was familiar because I had just watched it a couple hours beforehand. As we’ve established in these last couple days, I am somewhat slow on the uptake. Anyway, they weren’t just replaying game 2; they were showing a highlight pack. Yeah, like the game was actually played. At first I thought it was just a commercial for the fact that TSN was showing these games (and, to be fair, at the end of the highlights they did throw up an ad saying game 3 was on tonight) but, nope, tried and true highlights. Someone really needs to tell those guys that this isn’t live. I’m seriously starting to worry about them. I know you can make it through this, Mike Johnson. I believe in you.

Anyway, here we are. Game 3. The final frontier. The…last one. Game 3 doesn’t quite have the reputation for greatness that game 2 did, but, being the final game of a series, I’m guessing we’re in for the most intense of the three (which was also stated in the comments last night, the same comments that have been excellent and much appreciated throughout the run of these silly things). So, here we are. The last game. Win or go home (which doesn’t totally work in this context considering both teams would go home regardless of result). We’ve come to the end of the road folks. Game 3. Tell your friends.

Pre-Game: Oh, dead-eyed stare of Mike Johnson. I think I’m going to miss you most of all. We’ve gone through so much together in these last few days. You deadpanned introductions, your eyes stared into my soul, my soul curled up in the fetal position in terror. It’s these moments that I’m going to cherish. Thank you, Mike Johnson. You shall always have a place in my repressed memories.

Pre-Game!: Here’s something embarrassing. It took me three games to realize that one of the guys on the TSN panel is actually Mike Keenan. Dye that moustache, man. That would have totally avoided me feeling like an idiot. Holy shit, that’s Larry Murphy in the hipster glasses? And nerdy Malcolm Tucker there is Igor Larionov? Wow, I’m bad at this. Is this grounds to retroactively cancel my retroactive blog? Mike Johnson’s still the worst though.

20:00, 1st period: An EXTREME CLOSE-UP of center ice gets us going. That was a really odd camera choice. Who’s directing this thing? Werner Herzog? Wait, disregard that joke, that would be amazing.

19:33, 1st period: The Soviets are not fucking around today as they come flying out of the gate and pot the first goal of the game just 27 seconds in. This is followed by our first TSN factoid of the day telling us that, despite being ridiculous, Canada trailed in 7 of their 9 games in this tournament. Wait, the first factoid was actually factually relevant? And interesting? We’re off to a good start here. I’m excited.

18:24, 1st period: Alright, game 3 crowd. You’ve got a lot to live up to. Make Hamilton proud.

17:34, 1st period: Sergei Mylnikov is back in net for the Russians for game 3. Kind of a hard decision there. “Sergei! You gave up 6 goals, hit the bench.” “Evgeny, you gave up 6 goals, uhhhh…hit the bench!” At least they’re consistent.

Commercial Break: An ad for Hockey Canada shows a clip of Jordan Eberle scoring his tying goal against the Russians a few years ago and I’m met with the overwhelming desire to watch that game instead. No. No, Jake! You are invested, remember? Let’s do this. Oh, boy, we’re 5 minutes in and I’m already talking to myself. This does not bode well for any of our futures.

Also,

Y’see!? I’m not crazy. About that.

16:19, 1st period: Some guy in the crowd is wearing a baseball cap with HANDS ON IT. And the hands are CLAPPING. And HOLDING A MINIATURE CANADIAN FLAG. I need to have that hat and I need to wear it everywhere. That was fucking unbelievable.

15:13, 1st period: Give me a minute, I’m still getting over that hat. It was kind of like this but in Blue Jays baby blue.

14:59, 1st period: Voltron is formed for the first time tonight as Bykov goes to the box. Lemieux just deked through three Russians like he was playing shinny. Something tells me he’s going to be pretty good (I don’t care, I’m going to beat that joke into the ground until it’s dead, re-animate its corpse, and then beat it to death again. Deal with it, universe).

13:27, 1st period: I’ve never noticed this before, but Gretzky is a very “hunched” skater. As in he hunches over as he skates, in case that wasn’t clear. It probably doesn’t mean anything but it looks kind of funny and it amused me.

12:56, 1st period: As I’m obsessing over Gretzky’s posture like a weirdo, Alexei Gusarov rips a massive slap shot by Fuhr’s glove (who it should be said was playing way out of the net as seems to be the norm in this tournament) for his first goal of the tournament. Absolutely amazing shot. 2-0 USSR.

12:00, 1st period: Festisov streaks in, eludes two Canadian defenders, and goes backhand shelf (I have never heard that phrase before) to put the Soviets up 3-0. I know the USSR existed during these games (I mean, obviously), but if they didn’t, I’m guessing their reaction to that third goal would have gone something like this:

 

10:10, 1st period: Canada heads to the power play as Igor Kravchuk finds himself in the box. Voltron is not formed right off the bat and, shockingly, it works as Rick Tocchet buries a loose puck to get Canada back in this thing. And, yes, Copps Coliseum was awesome once again.

Commercial Break: Has anyone ever eaten a Delissio pizza and actually enjoyed it? I feel like their entire brand was built on a semi-clever marketing slogan. If anyone enjoys these things, let me know and then tell me if you’ve ever eaten actual pizza before.

9:42, 1st period: Brent Sutter heads to the box after inventing the punch/clothesline combination move. An impressive achievement, to be sure, but also a pretty obvious penalty.


9:23, 1st period:
Andrei Khomutov takes a cross check to the face in front of the Canadian net. No penalty is called. Seriously, what’s the deal with this? Were they trying to come up with a clever name for it or something? Why aren’t any of these called in this tournament? Get it together, Koharski.

9:13, 1st period: Whenever I see Mark Messier all I can think of is “alwees froosh.” Which makes me laugh and then makes me sad. If you don’t get that joke, you probably didn’t watch television in Canada between the years of 1999 and 2002.

6:27, 1st period: Mario Lemieux is the master of a lot of things but perhaps the most impressive is his mastery of skate to stick. So many times in these games I’ve seen him flawlessly receive a pass by tipping it to himself. Awesome stuff.

5:07, 1st period: Fuhr makes his first big save of the game off a nice Soviet passing play in close. I don’t know if you could really blame him for any of the goals scored thus far but I probably will anyway. Get it together, Fuhr.

4:37, 1st period: Brian Propp finds the back of the net as…toilet paper (?) falls from the rafters of Copps Coliseum. Where did that come from? Is that a Hamilton thing? “Oh, I’m really excited to go to that big hockey game tonight. Better bring a roll of toilet paper in case we score.” What the hell, Hamilton?

4:05, 1st period: Messier throws an awesome after the whistle elbow into a Soviet’s face. If that happened today he’d be suspended til June. But this is the ’80s and the Canada Cup so, of course, no penalty is called.

3:23, 1st period: The Canadians get some good pressure on the Russians but Murphy gets his shot tipped out of play. This series has done nothing to assuage my hatred of Larry Murphy.

2:56, 1st period: The “Hamilton – A World Class City” sign is back and is still the best thing to ever come out of Hamilton.

0:28, 1st period: Voltron throws a whole bunch of shots at the Soviet net but Mylnikov is having none of it. Guess someone didn’t take too kindly to being benched. The Soviets then take it back the other way and, off a brutal giveaway in the Canadian zone (off what was clearly a non-called hooking penalty) Khomutov takes it right to the net and scored. 4-2 USSR.

End of the First Period: The first period comes to an end with the Canadians down two. I wonder what the vibe in Copps was like for this intermission? Would have had to have been pretty tense and quiet, no? Also, now that I know who is on this TSN panel, it makes so much more sense why the guy in the middle (Larionov) is laughing so much less than the other three. This must just be like a giant “nyah, nyah, we beat you” to him. I hope this broadcast ends with Larionov snapping and punching Mike Johnson in the face.

Intermission Break: A friend of mine just sent me a picture of Candy Corn Oreos which are apparently a thing now. If anyone has any information on this abomination please use it to destroy any evidence of their existence. Nobody should have to suffer through this.

20:00, 2nd period: And we’re back with another TSN factoid telling us “The Cosby Show was the highest rated show on television. The (Sidney) Crosby show was born in 1987.” So, useful factoids were a one and done kind of thing, eh? Who the hell wrote that? Whoever they are, I hope they went to journalism school hoping they’d be doing something important with their lives only to find that they’ve been tasked with thinking up shitty Sidney Crosby puns. On a scale of one to ten, that was shitty.

18:10, 2nd period: Fuhr finally makes a great save smacking a puck away from the top corner with his glove. That was great. I don’t know if he was trying to catch it and couldn’t close his glove or if he actually intended to smack it away but, either way, it was damned impressive.

16:29, 2nd period: Craig Hartsburg tries to clear the puck but can’t get it out because hah, Craig Hartsburg.

15:23, 2nd period: Evgeny Belosheikin does not look pleased to be on the bench for this game. Not that I can blame him or anything. Dissent in the Soviet locker room! I’m starting fake rumors 25 years after the fact and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. “Belosheikin upset with playing time (e4)!” I think from now on whenever I make unsubstantiated claims about anything I’m just going to put an Eklund rating after it. I like this plan.

14:36, 2nd period: Gilmour’s on the bench taping up his ankle because fuck injuries, he’s Doug Gilmour.

14:02, 2nd period: Things are getting intense here. Hawerchuk gets hit with a knee-on-knee but springs back up to yell a bunch as the camera misses a Soviet being hit in the face at the other end of the ice. I was wondering where all the violence was. I guess they were just storing it all up for game 3?

Commercial Break: There seem to be a lot more commercials today than there were the past two nights. Oh, TSN, always caving to the RUB-A535 lobby.

13:40, 2nd period: Canada’s actually throwing some body checks at the Russians this game. I can’t tell if they’re frustrated or just collectively realized “we only have one more chance to hit Soviets and not incite a war. Let’s do this boys!’ (In this joke, everyone on the Canadian team were McCarthyists). Just go with it.)

12:49, 2nd period: The Russians fan on a slap shot in close which fools Fuhr and the puck squeaks through his pads. Luckily for the Canadians, it verrry slowly drifted wide of the net, thus avoiding disaster. I know what happens in this game and for a second I actually thought that puck was going in. And I was confused, thinking we had entered some alternate history. Again, slow on the uptake.

12:01, 2nd period: A bunch of people in the crowd just tried to start a wave and Hamilton just lost all the good will it had built up with me in the last game and a half.

Also, of note, Gretzky is still the leading scorer in the tournament. He also still only has 3 goals. The guy was pretty good, is what I’m saying.

11:30, 2nd period: Voltron forms, Voltron scores! It’s Larry Murphy with the goal on assists from The Great One and The Great Two (Mario. That joke kind of worked).

10:09, 2nd period: Fellow Backhand Shelf writer Chris Lund just bet me five bucks that Canada wins this game. I’m thinking of taking him up on that, they look sluggish. Unrelated, I am horrible at gambling.

8:54, 2nd period: Brent Sutter ties the game with an awkward looking shot that somehow finds top corner glove side (just like Adam Banks showed him). I’m starting to think I’m going to be out five bucks.

As the ice is repaired, we get another shot of the Copps crowd. Some guy in a very ’80s sweatshirt (seriously, sweatshirts are goddamn everywhere at this thing) who may or may not be on a copious amount of cocaine, judging by his celebration that consists of frantic fist pumps and head bobs, is holding a sign that says “Canada – a hockey ‘super-power’”.  Why did he put “super-power” in quotes? Is he actually being sarcastic? Is he taunting Canada?

Commercial Break: Odd thing that Wikipedia just told me – apparently all of these games had a start time of 8:00 pm. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a hockey game with this as a start time. Was this common in the ’80s or was it just for this tournament?

8:32, 2nd period: Viktor Tikhonov looks exactly like that one British actor guy. You know…that guy.

8:00, 2nd period: It’s like the Canadians have been reading this blog. Finding themselves shorthanded after Lemieux goes off for slashing, the Canadians are blocking shots all over the place. They’re looking like the 2012 New York Rangers out there (the only example that I could think of off the top of my head. Come on, it’s shot blocking). Good for them.

6:59, 2nd period: A Soviet player does a nice looking pirouette as he dives to the ice (total dive) as Hamilton taunts him. That was pretty great. Hamilton is starting to work their way back into my good graces.

5:23, 2nd period: Some absolutely phenomenal puck movement from Voltron on this power play but Tocchet can’t bury the goal into an empty net. In the midst of that was another pointless factoid (I don’t remember what it said) that made me think that TSN missed a golden opportunity to do a kind of Pop-Up Video thing with this. Just keep popping up actual facts (not Crosby puns. Fuck you, Crosby puns) every now and then about players in the tournament, things they said in press conferences after the fact, stats, etc. This either would have been amazing or incredibly irritating. I have no idea which.

4:28, 2nd period: Hawerchuk has an absolutely awesome sequence as he streaks into the Soviets’ zone and tries to score the typical ’80s goal (we’ve covered this, it’s a slap shot from the top of the circle) which gets stopped before grabbing the puck behind the net and circling around before burying it. 5-4 Canada.

4:28, 2nd period: Crowd shot. OH MY GOD, SO MANY MULLETS.

4:05, 2nd period: Larry Murphy has 3 points in this game so far. This just became less fun. Also, Bourque heads to the box for cross checking a Soviet in the back of the head. He, of course, goes to the box for high sticking. I don’t get it.

2:34, 2nd period: The crowd is starting to rise to their feet every time the Canadian penalty kill unit clears the puck out of the zone. It’s fantastic. I love you again, Hamilton. Let’s never fight again (unless you try to start an Argos/Ti-Cats argument in which case I’ll get mad just because of how much I don’t give a shit).

0:26, 2nd period: There’s a Canadian Tire ad on the side boards for something called a “Motomaster.” I have no idea what this is but it sounds incredible.

End of the Second Period: Welp, that’s two in the books. We’ve got one period left of this thing (spoilers). Let’s get to it. But first, Mike Johnson.

Intermission Break: This is by far the longest break between periods we’ve had in the last three nights. TSN is really trying to milk this thing, eh? We know what happens, just show the damn thing!

20:00, 3rd period: The Soviets start the third on a power play thanks to Bourque’s “cross check.” We’ll see if they can do anything with it (spoiler: they don’t).

18:10, 3rd period: It feels like there have been an inordinate amount of whistles in this game. More importantly, Michel Goulet is sporting a thick black moustache that makes him look very much like Robert Goulet and I am choosing to imagine him as such.

17:02, 3rd period: Mylnikov stones Coffey from point blank range after a great feed from Gretzky. This is one of the better performances I’ve seen from a goalie who has let in five goals.

16:04, 3rd period: Holy crap, there is so much goddamn hooking in this game. None of it is called, of course, but it’s kind of distracting and not at all what I would consider representative of hockey’s “zenith.”

14:14, 3rd period: Lemieux easily takes possession of the puck in the Soviet end and spins around with a gorgeous no-look pass. Unfortunately, there was nobody there, perhaps as a result of the not looking, and the Soviets regain possession.

12:03, 3rd period: STOP. HOOKING. Or at least start calling some penalties, Koharski. Jesus.

11:34, 3rd period: Pretty uneventful period so far so I’m instead focusing on all the ads on the side boards. There’s one for something called Helo which I am assuming is on purpose and pronounced like the Battlestar Galactica character and is not, in fact, the colloquial Hamilton spelling of “hello.”  Anything’s possible though. I’m onto your tricks, Hamilton.

8:35, 3rd period: Some pretty decent back and forth action as the teams exchange chances and Michel Goulet’s moustache continues to be absolutely incredible.

8:06, 3rd period: Dump and chase! Dump and chase! Dump and chase! Dump and chase!

7:40, 3rd period: The Soviets tie it up as Semak takes a pass from behind the net and kind of slides it under Fuhr’s pads. That kind of looked like he was playing shuffleboard. There have been a lot of weak goals in this series.

7:17, 3rd period: A TSN factoid tells us that the Soviets came back to tie the game 5-5 in all three periods in this series. Which is impressive and kind of interesting except for the fact that we’ve been watching these games for the last three days so I’d say that we kind of knew that.

6:44, 3rd period: Fuhr finally proves his worth, making a clutch save in close. He hasn’t been very good in these three games but he has made the saves when it counts. Well, I mean, it always counts, cause they’d be goals. But, you know, clutchness and stuff. I’m not good at platitudes.

5:27, 3rd period: I’d be really nervous if I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. That being said, this would have been an incredibly intense experience for those watching at the time and I totally get why this series is held in such high regard. I’m not sure I agree with it being thought of as such but, judging by how I feel about the 2010 gold medal game (the fact I was watching it live, how unbelievably stressful it was), I totally understand how those who were around think similarly of this.

4:34, 3rd period: Hawerchuk bats the puck out of the air about a foot over his head and then argues with the ref when it gets called as a high stick. With the way this series has been called so far, he might have a point.

4:16, 3rd period: I guess the finally hired a guy who can hold a camera still to film the arena’s clock. Much better work on that today than there was yesterday.

3:23, 3rd period: So. Many. Whistles.

3:14, 3rd period: The Soviets are engaging in their own bout of dump and chase here. Pat Quinn has defected! Quick, stop him! He’ll give away all our secrets! (In this joke, I am a McCarthyist.)

2:12, 3rd period: Great chance for the Canadians but Mylnikov stands tall. He’s been awesome this game (save for all the goals). Can’t even imagine the tension in that building right now. Even Mike Keenan’s moustache is about to jump off his face and go, “I can’t take this shit no more, I am outta here.”

1:26, 3rd period: There it is! Gretzky to Lemieux who buries it in the back of the net with a bullet of a wrist shot. TSN’s factoids (which are really just telling us what we already know at this point) lets us know that Lemieux scored both of Canada’s game winning goals in the finals, all on assists from Gretzky. Thanks for…the reminder, I guess?

More importantly, THE CLAPPING HAT IS BACK. It’s clapping so hard, you guys. It’s so happy. That made this whole thing worth it. I love you, clapping hat. I just can’t quit you.

1:17, 3rd period: Never knew how close Canada came to scoring 9 seconds later as Mylnikov decided to play completely out of the net but Canada couldn’t capitalize. If they score there, does the Lemieux goal become less iconic going forward?

0:14, 3rd period: Weirdest thing about the final minute of this game – the Russians never pulled their goalie. Seems kind of like the thing to do. Wikipedia tells me that Russian and Soviet coaches are known for refusing to do so. So that’s a thing. I don’t get it.

0:00, 3rd period: And there it is. The Canada Cup comes to an end, everyone at Copps goes crazy (and they were standing for the entire final minute, eat it, Montreal) and three days of programming for TSN is found. Gretzky takes home tournament MVP (and finishes as the leading scorer with 3 goals).

 

Well, that was actually a lot of fun. Despite my snark and sarcasm, I’ve greatly enjoyed blogging these games for you guys. In the end, I definitely don’t consider this series to be the best hockey I’ve ever seen, far too many bad goals and bad penalties and even worse non-calls. That being said, from a historical perspective, I totally understand the reputation that this series has gained and, as I said previous, to live through this and experience the tension live would be something else.

Thank you all so much for reading and for commenting (and to those of you that did neither, I wish nothing but pain on you and your families…but you’ll never know that because you’re not reading) and always remember to live your lives by the Gospel of Pierre

Note: do not live your life by the Gospel of Pierre. Everybody will hate you.

Comments (6)

  1. If you still doubt the level of technical excellenvce in the series, think about this: how many offsides did you see? I *believe* the number is something like one per game. That’s how damn precise both teams were. For all the supposed non-calls (which weren’t understood to be penalties at the time, of course), both teams were just playing at a higher level than you see these days. The added space on the ice helped, but no NHL team these days runs a PP as smoothly as either Voltron or the Five. Canada’s was especially impressive since they’d had nine games together (whereas I think the Russians had played with each other for so long that they were basically telepathic).

    Game 3 is made more interesting in historical context because Team Canada had been blown out by the Soviets 8-1 in the 1981 final. When they jumped up 3-0 so early, the universal response was “oh, crap, not again.” But of course, the 1981 team had someone in net other than the master of “I know exactly how many goals my team has in them and I’ll exactly give up one less”, Fuhr.

    Interesting bit of historical context: Keenan started that final shift with Hawerchuck on Gretzky’s wing for the first time in the tournament. That was odd, especially for a defensive zone faceoff with Gilmour and Messier on the team. He makes a big contribution: watch the trailer on the final goal suddenly disappear.

    And for all the Larry Murphy bashing, he did EXACTLY the right thing on the final goal: drive to the net and force the Russian defender to pick him up. Otherwise, Gretzky hits him with the pass since he’d done it with Kurri in the same position roughly a hundred times at that point.

  2. Very disappointed you did not go into the panel discussion after the game.

    I wanted to punch Larry Murphy through the TV. I don’t know how Larionov managed to hold himself back and not pummel him with the over the top 25 years later celebration.

  3. One other thing – I think this is where Gretzky became friends with Tocchet, which is what led to the whole Operation Slapshot mess.

  4. Did anyone see the gorilla on the ice in the team Canada post game celly? That was so weird.

  5. I remember watching that 1987 Canada Cup Final between the Soviets and Team Canada on Television. As far as I am concerned Soviet Coach Viktor Tikhonov is 100% correct when He says the officiating of those Games were biased in favor of Team Canada. I think if the officiating was fair the Soviets would have defeated the NHL Stars from Canada even if they did have Players like Wayne Gretzky! I could tell from the Systems they were using and how good the Soviets were playing while at even strength 5 on 5 that if the Officials were not so biased in calling Penalties against the Soviets that the Soviet Union would have kicked Canada’s Ass and would have won the 1987 Canada Cup!

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