Thursday, August 9, 2012
Talking Hockey: Picking Game 7 heroes
By Paul Grant and David Walton
This week, playing down a man, the regular guys go at another fantasy angle -- picking a shooter and goalie with everything on the line. Tim, please call home.
DAVID WALTON: I don't know what to do with all of this white space this week. With Tim being on vacation, how are we ever going to account for the 1,500 words he uses on Insane Clown Posse, "Blades of Glory" or any other thought that pops into his head?
I guess I already started there a little bit.
OK, Paul, here's the situation: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, who do you want going head-to-head, shooter and goalie?
For me, there's only one real answer for the skater. I think if you do a search on NHL for best goals, the results have, like, all of his goals. And because I have watched him torch my beloved Blues season after season, I know that this guy is a one-man wrecking crew and the only player I would want with the game on the line. Who? Pavel Datsyuk. I'm sorry, there's no one better suited for that situation. His moves and dekes are unreal.
And I think I watched him do the Riverdance while skating in -- and scoring -- on a breakaway.
Now for the goalie. I had Mike Richter already in mind and I was going to write a long diatribe about how he robbed the Canucks of the Cup in 1994. You could say, "What about Patrick Roy?" But how would anyone tell him what game of the series it was with those Stanley Cup rings in his ears? But, alas, I'm left with a current crop of goalies that don't have quite the same swagger that Richter and the other goalies of that era had.
So do you go with uber-patriot Tim Thomas? Today's flavor, Jonathan Quick? I say neither. I take Jaroslav Halak for the win, please!
While he hasn't quite had the jaw-dropping flair in St. Louis that he had in Montreal, I don't think you can discount what he did to the Capitals in 2010. And if it's Game 7 in a one-on-one situation, he's the guy I want.
What about you, pal? Who you got? Aren’t you obligated, by Canadian law, to take Sid the Kid as your shooter?
PAUL GRANT: Is Tim on vacation? I thought he was on work release. Anyway.
Two players, everything on the line, do-or-die, backs against the wall … no more exciting situation in all of sports to imagine. Including the Olympics.
Whom do I want? A lot of names came immediately to mind when I was looking at skaters. I was going to nominate Patrick Kane, if for no other reason than to see if he could pull off that Diving Superman Sweeping Goal thing in a Game 7. He’s got mad skills and the guts to try crazy action like that, which is a great combination. But he’s not my guy.
Martin St. Louis is top-notch; Marian Gaborik is shifty in a good way; Anze Kopitar could glare his way to a goal. John Tavares, Phil Kessel, Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson and, yes, Sidney Crosby would all be fine choices.
But I’m going with Evgeni Malkin. The dude has got sick hands, moves the puck around, is big with a long reach and can dazzle and intimidate goalies to no end. He’d be my guy; his relatively substandard playoff performance (by his lofty standards) last season was a blip. I can see the move now: His size makes him look like he’s barely moving, just kind of loping in there, which messes with a goalie’s head on pace. He’ll mosey in, stickhandling the entire way, go left, go right, tuck it under the befuddled goalie or roof it or snipe it from behind the goal line. And he looks so confident, so cool with that puck, that you feel there’s no way he’s going to mess it up. Or at least you feel that he feels there’s no way he’s going to mess it up, which is even more important.
As for my goalie, I’m not going the homer route that you went, Mr. Gateway Arch. No way am I picking James Reimer, even though I’m from Toronto. Instead, I’m going with Dominik Hasek. Just kidding. That’s two weeks in a row! Thomas and Quick are good choices, particularly when you look at what they’ve done in the playoffs. I like the way Thomas bounces back from shootout goals, especially two seasons ago when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. You want that kind of rubber psyche in net for your team.
But no better clutch goalie remains in the league than Martin Brodeur. Before last season’s run, I would have said he was washed up, but his decision to go with bigger pads and stretch his game a bit has really paid off. The dude has won some Cups, he’s recently put his team on his back for a long playoff run and he’s seen almost every move known to man. He would be my guy. Could you imagine Malkin and Brodeur staring each other down in Game 7? Suh-weet.
Without Tim's verbosity, we kept this week's short. And why not? Until next week, David, keep your head up.