Michael Leighton after allowing Marian Hossa's G2 goal
Michael Leighton, on his duff, after allowing Marian Hossa’s G2 goal (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

No surprise that the Chicago Blackhawks won the initial two games of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. No surprise that Antti Niemi has had a big hand in both victories, especially last night’s Game Two. No surprise that Chicago’s fans almost blew the roof off United Center. But, 120 minutes into the series, there are three things that I just do not understand. 

1. Why would Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette have come back with Michael Leighton in goal? It makes no sense. In Game One, Leighton provided absolutely no spark, no lift, no inspiration to his team. He was out of position way too often. Laviolette had Brian Boucher right there. You remember Boucher? He’s the guy who wiped the New Jersey Devils off  the first-round map and sent the Flyers soaring to their current heights. Then, after he comes back with Leighton in G2, we watch Ben Eager score the game-winning goal over a falling and way-too-deep-in-his-net Leighton. Last night, Leighton seemed to spend the entire game on his butt. If Laviolette does not start Boucher in G3, he deserves to lose this series. 

Patrick Kane (left) has been held pointless through two games of 2010 SCF (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

2. Why is the media so concerned with what Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are doing on the scoresheet? Is the idea not to win the Stanley Cup? If other players, like Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, are firing on all cylinders, who cares what Toews and Kane are doing? In Game Two, Toews won 63% of his face-offs (15-of-24) and finished +1. In Game One, he won 75% of his draws (18 of 24). Over the first two games of this series, the Hawks have goals from seven different players. That means everyone is working their a**es off. If I’m in Joel Quenneville’s shoes, I’m thrilled with all that. I tell Toews just keep winning those draws, big boy. That’s one of the things it takes to win. 

In the 1989-90 season, Oilers’ centre Mark Messier won the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the entire National Hockey League. In the 1990 Stanley Cup Final, Messier had zero goals. Zero. And, of the five assists he had in that series, three came in Game Four. It didn’t matter. Players like Craig Simpson and Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen and Petr Klima stepped up. That’s what’s happening in Chicago right now. 

3. I don’t understand what’s happened to Hockey Night in Canada. It’s like it fell and hit its head very hard on the sidewalk. Or had an elective lobotomy. If you did not see last night’s opening, the only words I can use to describe it are: deeply disturbing. It began with host Ron MacLean shuffling around the ice like an old man. The only thing missing was the walker. Then, as the camera followed MacLean, he began rummaging under the United Center stands. Under the stands! He appeared to be looking for his partner in stupidity, Don Cherry. The next thing we saw was Cherry – wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask. Wearing a mask! Then Cherry began reciting non-sensical poetry and playing the Phantom of the Opera theme on the organ. This guy was a coach in the National Hockey League, for gawd sakes! Was the opening creative? You bet it was – but it was also grossly misplaced within the accepted structure of the show. HNIC has become a train wreck of the bizarre. It makes The Twilight Zone look like 100 Huntley Street. 

In Game Three, if Laviolette comes to his senses, and Toews and Kane pop a couple each all will be right with the world. As for Hockey Night in Canada, it looks, alarmingly, like it might be too far gone to save.

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6 Responses to “3 things I just don’t understand about the Stanley Cup Final”

  1. Fred says:

    The only fly in your ointment might be that Leighton’s rebound games were quite strong? I defer to your statistics oh wise one, but it could be a factor in the goaltender decisions of game 2.

  2. Howard says:

    Steve, Please tell me what you really think.-ha, ha. I like your article, you make a great point. I think Laviolette may not have great confidence in either one of them right now, could be the reason he came back with him.

  3. Blosby says:

    Let me tell you something about “The Phantom of the Opera”: there’s a reason the Phantom wears a mask. A VERY GOOD REASON. Perhaps Don Cherry behind a mask isn’t the worst idea ever. ;)

    Also: How did HNIC afford Andrew Lloyd Webber when they can’t even hang onto their own theme song?????

  4. The Big Mouth says:

    If Peter Laviolette is relying on Leighton’s record in so-called “bounce-back” games, this series is already over. Put the guy in net who gives you the best chance to win. Right now, that’s gotta be Boucher.

  5. David says:

    I’m with Blosby–Don Cherry in a mask is an upgrade…now if that mask had something–let’s say foam–that filled the space in Cherry’s mouth every time he opened it…yeah, baby!! And everythink.
    Can’t agree with BM on Ron Maclean though even if the HNIC opening was stupid. Maclean is still an amazing broadcaster.

  6. The Big Mouth says:

    Didn’t say MacLean was a bad broadcaster – just that he has become hopelessly misguided. I think he must need a really good producer by his side.

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