Sunday, June 10, 2012

With All Guns Blazing, With All Flags Flying

Like I said the other day: If you gotta go down, go down with a fight.

If you gotta go down, gown wth all guns blazing, and with all flags flying.

If I'm going down, I'm taking a few of the enemy with me.

Last night, the Devils and Los Angeles Kings played Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the Prudential Center in Newark. And, if I'm being honest, the Devils haven't played better than the Kings in any of the 5.

But only in Game 3, a 4-0 L.A. win, have the Devils been out of it. By all rights, the Kings should have lifted the Cup last night. But if the Devils had played Games 1 and 2 the way they played Games 4 and 5, it would have been the Scarlet & Black lifting the Cup on home ice last night.

Once again, Martin Brodeur showed Jonathan Quick that it's one thing for a hockey goaltender to play out of his skin for 2 months at age 26. It's another thing to have done it at age 22 and to still be doing it at age 40.

There was a different "Marty!" chant last night. But it should have been, if I may inject my soccer fandom in here, to the tune of "The First Noel"...

Marty, Marty, Marty, Marty!
Born is the King of New Jersey!

Zach Parise finally lived up to his captaincy in this series, leading out a team determined to fight, with no quit in them whatsoever. And he scored the 1st goal, unassisted in the 1st period, thanks to a massive defensive gaffe that, should the Devils complete the miracle comeback, should haunt Kings fans forever -- or until something happens to distract them, either the Dodgers, or USC football, or next season's Lakers.

The team that scored first has won every game in this series. Justin Williams tallied for the Kings in the 2nd period, but a few minutes later, Bryce Salvador fired in a shot that deflected off Slava Voynov, to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. A Kings goal was rightfully waved off for high-sticking: It would have counted in lacrosse, but not in ice hockey.

The Devils had to defend a 1-goal lead for the entire 2nd half of the game. The Kings certainly didn't give up, either, fighting for the equalizer until the last second. They didn't get it. There was more rough stuff in this game than in the 1st 4 combined. With 1:38 left in regulation, Adam Henrique was knocked down in front of the Kings' goal following a missed shot, and Quick punched him while he was down.

In the last 2 games, Quick has gone from genuine Playoff hero, the likely winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player of the entire Playoffs, to a petulant little cunt who doesn't deserve the greatest trophy in the sport, the Stanley Cup. Or the 2nd-greatest, the Smythe.

The Devils hung on, to win, 2-1, to the sound of a roaring Jersey crowd. We're going to Game 6, in L.A., tomorrow night.

"We could have packed it in two games ago. That's the bottom line," Brodeur said. "But you see we have a bunch of resilient guys that want to try to make history and try to win the Stanley Cup. We're not going to give up."

Like Bruce Springsteen said: "We made a promise we swore we'd always remember: No retreat, baby, no surrender. Blood brothers on a summer's night with a vow to defend: No retreat, baby, no surrender."

I think the Devils now have a 50-50 chance. And if we win Game 6 in L.A., and tie this mother up, we win Game 7.

We may not have as many big guns in our lineup as did the only other team to comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the Finals, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who had several Hall-of-Famers. But we've got plenty of heart. Lots of courage. Loads of piss & vinegar. It was never a question of whether we feared the Kings. We didn't. It was only a question of whether we were emotionally ready to go for it, after the wild series against the two teams we hate the most, the Flyers and the Rangers. It took us 3 games to get ready.

Now it is the Kings' turn to show whether they are ready. I don't think they are.


As for the Yankees... Yankee Fans were complaining about Phil Hughes last night, that he wasn't good enough against the Mets. Hell, the guy allowed just 2 runs over 6 innings. True, the 2 runs were home runs, but they were solo home runs, by David Wright (no surprise there) and Omar Quintanilla (that was a surprise, as he hadn't hit a big-league homer in 4 years. Still, the Yankees trailed 2-1 at that point.

But Mark Teixeira hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 6th, his 11th "Teix message" of the season, to give the Yankees the lead. The annual lousy start by the Yankee 1st baseman, a tradition going back to Donnie Regular Season Baseball, is over, as Teix is now batting .248 and climbing.

Curtis Granderson tacked on his 18th homer of the season in the 8th. Yankees 4, Mets 2. WP: Hughes (6-5). SV: Rafael Soriano (9). LP: Dillon Gee (4-4), who, as Hughes did until the bottom of the 6th, pitched as thought he deserved a better fate.

So the Yankees have taken the 1st 2 games of this 3-game home series -- as they should have, even if the opponent is not The Other Team in New York. And Phil Hughes once again showed why the Yankees were right to not put him in a trade package for Johan Santana.

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