Before this epic battle took place, as we tried to find a potential difference-maker in this series, we looked to the goaltenders. Fleury would have the edge over Varlamov, and this would be the final determining factor over which team would advance. It took seven games for that advantage to show up, but it did show up. Now the Penguins are in the Eastern Conference finals again. We felt for Game 7, with the way the Penguins had played through the first six games, that if Fleury equaled Varlamov’s numbers, they would win. Fleury ended up with better numbers in this game and the Penguins won in a slaughter. Let’s look at the numbers. (Before that, I want to say that it’s not always about the numbers.) Sometimes it is the quality and timing of the saves made or not made. Fleury made two saves on Ovechkin early in period 1 that kept the game scoreless. The glove save on Ovechkin’s breakaway was top shelf. This kind of save goes beyond just preventing a goal. It often turns games around and this save did. The save NOT made by Varlamov on Craig Adams, eight seconds after Crosby scored, had the same emotional effect. Fleury stopped 19 of 21 shots, a save percentage of .904 – much better than the first six games. Varlamov stopped only 14 of 18, for a save percentage of .778 – much worse than his previous performances. Again, we only needed Fleury to equal Varlamov, and if even that was all he did, the Capitals still would only have scored five goals. So even though we thought that goal-tending would be the deciding factor in the series, maybe it wasn’t. All in all the Penguins were the better team and they proved it in Game 7 in Washington. Now the Penguins watch to see who the next opponent will be. As difficult as it was to get past the Capitals, the next round will be tougher, no matter who wins tonight. We will watch and root for Carolina and Anaheim, because those are the teams I picked in the PenguinPoop Gypsy Pool. That’s the view from E-11.
Note: Crosby > Ovechkin
Note: Just like I always hoped Lindros would never win a cup, I hope Ovechkin never does either.
Note: Steigerwald’s best statement of the evening: ‘This will be our last game on FSN this year.’ — meaning I no longer have to listen to his inane drivel.