(very important update below)
Years ago and in another city, while refreshing myself in that famous workers' canteen on the Strand, the Savoy Hotel American Bar, I listened to a rant delivered by my friend Atish about how unfair it is that in the Premier League the teams with the most money (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal) finish at the top every single year. When you have Russian oligarch wealth to pay for the best players in the world, the other teams (his favorite team was and is the perennially 5th or 6th place-finishing Aston Villa, a quite good but not great team) don't have a chance, and the poor bastards at the bottom of the standings get demoted to another league entirely.
If you take a look at the Premier League standings right now, you'll see the exact same wealthy teams at the top. Just like every other year.
All of which should make you ponder just how well put-together the Detroit Red Wings are. In this era of caps and restrictions, they still manage to put together an excellent team that incinerates even pretty good teams like the Chicago Blackhawks. The Pittsburgh Penguins are really good too, and they have two of the top five players in the NHL today (I should mention that I've been VERY impressed with Sidney Crosby's play in this post-season), but they'll still probably be incinerated by the Red Wings. Detroit is simply too good. We're witnessing a dynasty similar to the Montreal Canadiens in the 70s, the New York Islanders in the early 80s, or the Edmonton Oilers in the mid and late 80s.
And all this without Russian oligarch wealth! What a well-run team. And that game last night was an excellent one. A few impressions:
Darren Helm's performance during that one penalty kill was pretty jaw-dropping. The Thrashers should at least attempt such things next year with Colin Stuart and Marty Reasoner (pen, paper, DW, now please).
When Patrick Kane was streaking down the right wing side near the end of the third period I thought to myself, "My, that teenager's speed and finesse are impressive, but he isn't going to score." And then he did. A fine goal indeed.
And did you see that crazy save Cristobal Huet made?
And finally, have you ever noticed that Chris Osgood is (to put it charitably) a terribly cautious goalie? It seems like he freezes the puck every time it comes near him instead of occasionally playing it or passing it. And why not? As we know, the Red Wings play a "puck possession" game and the way to possess pucks is to win face-offs. All of which means that Osgood is the luckiest goalie of all time.
That said, the Stanley Cup Final totally has pig flu because I don't really like either the Wings or the Penguins. Oh well.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: I wonder why, after the game, Joel Quenneville didn't walk up to Brian Campbell and say "You lost it for me."