My Personal Top 10 Hockey Games... As Seen on TV During the 2009-2010 Season
It’s been said a great game is made by great players. This is my personal list of 10 great games from the 2009-10 season, and it’s not confined to the NHL. This list is presented in no particular order; you can arrange them for yourself or you can add another candidate as an honorable mention.
Olympics: Canada vs. United States (February 28, 2010)
This is the game where virtually the entire country dropped everything to watch it, as it was for all the marbles, and home gold supremacy. It took a loss to the United States in a Round Robin match for Canada to regroup and learn from their mistakes. Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Jonathan Toews (Chicago) and Corey Perry (Anaheim), but our friends to the south made a game of it on goals by Ryan Kesler (Vancouver) and, with six attackers on the ice, the tying goal by Zach Parise (New Jersey). That tying goal started giving nearly everyone heart attacks as the game headed into sudden death overtime. This would not be the first time a Canada-USA match would need overtime in an all-the-marbles match. As the overtime progressed, hearts were racing as the teams tried to score first. And then, at 7:40 of overtime, a young man by the name of Sidney Crosby scores the game winner, beating Ryan Miller, to quote Mike Lange, “like a rented mule”, and leading veteran play-by-play announcer Chris Cuthbert to call Crosby’s goal “The Golden Goal”. After being shut out of a medal opportunity in Turin (Torino) in 2006, which occurred after winning Gold in Salt Lake City in 2002, to which Bob Cole asked the country to “stand up and cheer”, Canada finally redeemed themselves to give the country something to cheer about.
NHL: Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks (October 12, 2009)
If you think big comebacks are possible, then you’re looking at this particular example of it. The game started off well for Calgary, jumping to a 5-0 lead on goals by Dustin Boyd, Eric Nystrom, Jarome Iginla (who also got into a fight later on), Rene Bourque, and Olli Jokinen. And that was only a half an opening period. In the process, Cristobal Huet was chased after giving up the first 3 goals on 5 shots. Antti Niemi came in and although he gave up the next 2 goals, he ended up proving solid. And then, where there was silence in the United Center slowly gave way to hope, as John Madden broke Calgary’s shutout bid by striking at 17:42. That made it 5-1. Then, in the second, a goal by Patrick Kane made it 5-2. And then, Dustin Byfuglien makes it 5-3. You could tell something great was going to happen in the Madhouse on Madison. Dave Bolland scored less than a minute later to close to gap to one goal. And then, at 4:32 of the third period, Patrick Sharp gets one past Kiprusoff to tie the game 5-5, sending the crowd into a frenzy, but there was more. Calgary was biting themselves by not hanging onto that 5-0 lead that they were desperate to take one back. The game ended up going to overtime, and just 26 seconds in, a hero emerged. Brent Seabrook completed the comeback, winning the game 6-5, and the Hawks overcame a huge 5-0 deficit, much to the delight of the 20,074 who attended the game.
A footnote to that game: Some would suggest this particular game (and perhaps the next one in Columbus) ended up ultimately sealing Calgary’s fate, as they fell short in the final games of the season, allowing the Colorado Avalanche to get in.
World Juniors: Canada vs. United States (December 31, 2009)
Picture this: It’s New Years Eve, you’re about to ring in the new year (and decade) with your friends and family. What do you do as part of your celebrations? Watch Canada battle the United States in a Round-Robin match. Whether you were watching it on TV or seeing it in person, you knew you were in for a wild ride.
Just 2:03 into the match, Stefan Della-Rovere opened up the scoring to give Canada a 1-0 lead, but seconds later, end up shorthanded, resulting in the U.S. tying the game up on a goal by McRae. The Americans would then add another to go up 2-1 on a goal by Schroeder, a shorthanded marker. Canada would respond later on with a goal by Jordan Eberle. About a minute later, the U.S. was awarded a penalty shot, which Kreider missed, and the game remained tied 2-2. And then, while shorthanded, the U.S. scored the go-ahead goal with 11 seconds left in the second period to give them a 3-2 lead That goal was scored by Johnson. 61 seconds into the third period, they were up 4-2 on a goal by Kristo. About 9 minutes later, Jordan Eberle made it 4-3. Then, the Credit Union Centre faithful stood on their feet when with a little over 4 minutes remaining in regulation, Alex Pietrangelo tied the game up at 4-4 to send the contest to overtime. Not much happened in the extra 5 minute period, so a shootout was required. In the shootout, Canada went up first, and scored, and both teams scored until Canada made it 3-2, which meant Jordan Schroeder had to equalize, or the game would end in a Canada victory. He took the shot, and failed, and Canada would win the game 5-4 in a shootout to claim another win over our friends to the south. Now that was a great way to end 2009.
NHL: Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks (April 24, 2010)
Although a very recent game, this one turned out to be quite interesting in a number of ways. The series was tied 2-2, with both Finnish goalies, Antti Niemi for Chicago, and Pekka Rinne for Nashville, playing some of the greatest hockey of their young NHL careers. After David Legwand opened the scoring for Nashville, Andrew Ladd tied it up for the Hawks, followed by goals by Hjalmarsson and Kopecky. During the first period, the puck mysteriously disappeared. After several minutes trying to figure out where it was, it turned out the puck was somewhere in the top part of Niemi’s jersey, and the mystery was solved, allowing play to continue. Nashville would get a shorthanded marker scored by Joel Ward, and then, a pair of goals in the third, both by Martin Erat. Chicago found themselves down 4-3 with the possibility of being down 3-2 in the series. With 63 seconds left in regulation, Marian Hossa laid a check on Dan Hamhuis, resulting a 5-minute powerplay for the Preds, and normally, when something like that happens, you consider the game to be lost. Well, that did not turn out to be the case, as Patrick Kane managed to equalize the goal while having 6 attackers on the ice, the goal coming with 13 seconds left in regulation, sending the United Center crowd of 22,115 into a frenzy. That set the stage for overtime with the Hawks still shorthanded and Hossa in the box. What happened in the overtime would be unreal. The Hawks managed to kill off the rest of the 5-minute major, and Hossa came out of the box. Moments later, it was he who scored the game-winning goal. Yes. Marian Hossa, who spent 5 minutes in the box for boarding, scored the goal that turned out to be his first playoff marker as a Hawk, and sending the crowd home happy, with the hopes the Hawks would then be able to finish off the series a couple of nights later in Nashville.
Late at night, I was listening online to a radio show on one of Chicago’s stations the day the game was played, and to somewhat quote the host, while watching the game, he suggested to his wife that the Hawks would kill off the penalty, Hossa would come out of the box, score the winning goal, and the crowd would go home happy. And that’s exactly what happened. Wow!
NHL: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (January 12, 2010)
Sometimes, there comes a game where the goaltenders would completely dictate the terms. This turned out to be one of those games. The setting was Madison Square Garden in New York City. The goaltenders were Martin Brodeur for New Jersey and Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. From the opening face-off to the final buzzer of overtime, both teams tried to beat the other’s goalie to get some sort of an advantage on the scoreboard, with no success. Through 65 minutes, the score remained 0-0, and both Marty and King Henry recorded shutouts. This set up the stage for the shootout. Only one person would prove successful in the shootout.
The first shooter was Erik Christensen. But he lost the handle on the puck and lost his turn. It was Zach Parise’s turn to shoot next. But Henry makes the save. Back to the Rangers and their next shot was by Ales Kotalik. But Brodeur stood tall. Next was Jamie Langenbrunner for Jersey... and Lundqvist makes the save. Next shooter was Marian Gaborik... and he fails to beat Brodeur! The Devils hoped to end the game with a goal by Travis Zajak but he can’t get it in! It’s up to Brandon Dubinsky to take the lead... and he fails! Devils with another chance to end the game, and they gamble on Patrik Elias. Elias takes the shot... and scores! Game over! Devils win by a score of 1-0. It was quite a dramatic finish.
World Hockey Championships: Germany vs. United States (May 7, 2010)
Can you think of a better place to open up the 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championships than at Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, where the seating capacity is over 75,000? I managed to get a copy of the game but the feed wasn’t in English, but I didn’t mind that. Some words are interchangeable between both languages. It was quite an exciting game. After a scoreless opening period, Michael Wulf of Germany opened up the scoring at 5:20 of the second. It stayed 1-0 Germany until 8:28 of the third when Ryan Carter scored the equalizer. This set up the stage for overtime, which would only last 21 seconds when Felix Schutz scores the game winner, which had to be reviewed, and it ultimately stood, and the Germans defeated the Americans 2-1. The recorded attendance for the game was 77,803. Now that’s quite a crowd who expected and GOT quite their money’s worth.
NHL: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins (May 14, 2010)
Anyone in the Boston sports world would tell you that after taking a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers that it would be an easy ride to the Eastern Conference Finals, something the TD Garden had never hosted before. In fact, the last time the Bruins had hosted a Conference Final was in 1992, where they were swept by the eventual Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Going into Game 4, the Bruins had lost David Krejci to injury, which occurred in Game 3, and ended up losing Game 4 in overtime. Then, the series went back to Boston, where the Bruins got blanked 4-0 resulting in a Brian Boucher/Michael Leighton shared shutout (Boucher was injured during Game 5 and Leighton had to finish). Game 6 was much closer, with the score being 2-1 in favor of Philadelphia, which set up the stage for what was to be a wild and exciting Game 7 at TD Garden. It all started out well for Boston, as they jumped to a 3-0 lead, but as soon as they scored that third goal, it would be the Flyers who would steal the show. After 20 minutes, the Flyers had cut into that 3-0 lead by cutting the gap to two. After 40 minutes, goals by Scott Hartnell at 2:49 and Daniel Briere at 8:39 of the second resulted in the two teams tied at 3 goals each. This wasn’t what the Bruins wanted as they started the third period, and they tried very hard to correct this little mistake. Unfortunately for them, history would rear its ugly head and what would happen after that would break many hearts. At 11:10 of the third period, the Bruins were called for Too Many Men, a call that was handed to them on May 10, 1979 in Game 7 at the Montreal Forum, where up to that penalty, the Bruins were leading 4-3 and hoped to knock off the Canadiens. That penalty in 1979 resulted in a late goal by Guy LaFleur, sending the game to overtime, where Yvon Lambert scored the OT winner a little over 9 minutes in. The Bruins were out; Don Cherry was out of a job; and the Habs would go on to win their fourth straight Stanley Cup. Now, back to the TD Garden. The Flyers were on the powerplay. At 12:52 of the third, Simon Gagne scored to give the Flyers their first lead of the night. Boston then tried to press hard for the equalizer, but it was all for naught. The final siren went off, the series was over, and the Philadelphia Flyers were on their way to a date with the Montreal Canadiens. The Boston Bruins committed the ultimate Epic Fail by taking a 3-0 series lead on the opposition, and losing the next four games. They joined the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins, and 2004 New York Yankees (of Major League Baseball) in the rare but dubious club where victory was snatched by the jaws of defeat in very dramatic fashion. If you watched that game, either in person or on TV, you had to wonder if supernatural forces were at work conspiring against the Bruins, or they were getting too cocky after going up 3-0 in the series. That’s for you to decide. Maybe you’ve thought of something else.
NHL: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers (April 13, 2010)
What happens when you have two teams playing each other for one playoff spot on the final day of the regular season? The answer is... High drama! And that’s what happened on a Sunday afternoon at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. With only one playoff spot available, it was a “winner-take-all” situation, and whoever came up short would find themselves lamenting what might have been had they been the winners.
The Rangers struck first at 3:27 of the opening period on a goal by Jody Shelley. Then it became a goaltending duel all the way into the third period when Matt Carle tied the score at 6:54. That sent the Flyers faithful into an exciting frenzy. Even the famous Sign Man got into it by holding up the “Only the Beginning” placard. The score would remain 1-1 as the game headed into overtime. Neither team managed to score in the extra five minutes, so, a shootout was required for all the marbles. Daniel Briere got things started by scoring first in the shootout. After Erik Christensen and Mike Richards each missed, P.A. Parenteau got the equalizer to make it 1-1. The next shooter was Claude Giroux. He scores to make it 2-1, which meant the Rangers’ season was on the line, and if Olli Jokinen failed to score, then the Flyers were in and the Rangers were out. He takes the shot... and he misses! The Flyers punched their ticket to the Swamp to face their rivals in New Jersey... While the Rangers pondered about how to deal with an early summer.
NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens (December 1, 2009)
It’s pretty fair to suggest Toronto didn’t have a great season (they’ve struggled mightily in the post-Lockout era, and the closest they’ve gotten to getting in was at the end of the 2006-07 season), but this game against the Montreal Canadiens makes this list.
The starting goalies for this game were Jonas Gustavsson for Toronto and Carey Price for Montreal. Almost halfway through the first period, Colton Orr, who’s better known as a fighter than a goal scorer, opens up the scoring. And still in the first, Toronto makes it 2-0 on a goal by Jeff Finger. Toronto would take that 2-0 lead into the second, but a goaltending change would occur. Gustavsson was out and Joey MacDonald came in. It was later known that Gustavsson was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat, which sidelined him for a period of time. One more goal would be scored in the game – a goal by Matt Stajan to make it 3-0 for the Leafs. That would be the final score, and it gave Jonas Gustavsson and Joey MacDonald a rare shared shutout.
NHL: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins (January 1, 2010)
Think: How do you celebrate New Years Day? Answer: By being at Fenway Park for the annual Winter Classic, which for this particular edition featured the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. I thought it was quite a good game, which produced a couple of historical firsts. One of them was the first ever fight to take place in an outdoor NHL game, and the fighters were Dan Carcillo and Shawn Thornton. The scoring was quite low, and the goals that occurred were the opening marker by Danny Syvret at 4:42 of the second period, a late third-period powerplay goal by Mark Recchi to tie the game, ultimately forcing overtime, and then, the overtime winner by Marco Sturm, which occurred at 1:57. I consider that game to be in my personal Top 10.
And there you have it. My personal Top 10 hockey games that I’ve seen on TV over the course of the 2009-2010 season. This list is not by any means definitive. Everyone has their own personal Top 10. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have putting it together for your pleasure.