Stomach-punch losses

One of the reasons Bill Simmons is so successful as a sportswriter is his ability to wrap the fan perspective into all of his writing. He’s not an “objective” journalist. He doesn’t hide his emotions, and he pours his heart out when his team loses.

He’s also funny as hell, and mixes in pop culture references better than anybody in sports media.

His latest column is a classic, as he recounts his young daughter’s love for the Los Angeles Kings, and how she experienced her first “stomach-punch loss” recently when the Kings couldn’t close out the Devils in Game 5 last Wednesday.

So Wednesday’s game … man.

I tried to warn her. I tried to prepare her: “Look, this is sports, you never know, you can’t just assume they’re going to win.” She wouldn’t hear it. She kept saying, “Dad, stop it, just stop. They’re going to win.” She had the whole night planned in her head, inadvertently jinxing it with questions like, “Who gets to hold the Cup first again?” and “How long will they pass it around?” She insisted on arriving 40 minutes early for warm-ups. On the way there, she leaned out her window and waved to anyone wearing a Kings jersey. We made it downtown and realized it had morphed into a sea of Kings jerseys — more than we had ever seen. She was delighted.

“Look at all the jerseys!!!!” she gushed. “Did the Lakers ever have this many?”

And I just watched the whole thing happen, unable to stop it, knowing the entire time, “Oh God, tonight’s probably the night … her first stomach-punch loss.”

The night ended with his daughter sobbing in their car on the ride home. After last nights loss in New Jersey, the pressure is suddenly on the Kings in game 6. Hopefully she and other Kings fans can celebrate a win that will feel even better after the disappointment of the last two games.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Byfuglien leads Hawks to within one game of clinching Cup

Dustin Byfuglien’s two goals and two assists in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup helped the Blackhawks beat the Flyers 7-4 on Sunday. Chicago is now only one win away from winning its first title in nearly 50 years.

Byfuglien had been quiet in the series before Sunday, registering only one assist through the first four games. Chris Pronger had largely neutralized him before then, but by playing most of the night on a line with Kris Versteeg (who had a goal and two assists himself) and Dave Bolland (one goal, one assist), the trio lifted the Hawks to a crucial victory.

Now comes the hard part for Chicago: beating the Flyers in Philadelphia, which they haven’t done in three tries this season (including Games 3 and 4 of the Cup). Flyers’ goalie Michael Leighton has been downright brutal on the road in this series, but his 31-save effort in Game 4 on Friday night was arguably his best performance of the playoffs. Assuming he’s in net for Wednesday night and not Brian Boucher (who replaced Leighton after he allowed three goals on Sunday), he could make the difference in whether or not this series goes to a Game 7.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Niemi rebounds as Hawks go up 2-0 on Flyers

After allowing five goals on 32 shots in Game 1, Blackhawks’ goalie Antti Niemi stopped 32 of 33 shots on Monday night to help Chicago beat the Flyers 2-1 in Game 2.

Niemi faced only three shots in the first period, but then saw 15 in both the second and third periods. His defense helped out tremendously, but he made several great saves throughout the game and even though he gave up the one goal in the third period, he shut the door on Philly to preserve the win.

Marian Hossa had another excellent outing, scoring the opening goal of the night. He now has three points in the series and appears determined to get the Stanley Cup Finals monkey off his back.

The series will shift to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Wednesday night and the Flyers have a lot of work to do. They were unable to tie the game last night despite seizing momentum off of Simon Gagne’s third period goal and launching 30 shots at Niemi over the final two periods. They’re looking at must wins over the next two games.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Penguins upset Wings, win 2009 Stanley Cup

Here’s reaction from local columnist and national writers after the Pittsburgh Penguins upset the Detroit Red Wings to win the 2009 Stanley Cup.

– Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Penguins earned the right to be called champions after beating the Wings on Detroit’s home ice.

– After lacing it up for the Penguins in the 2007-08 season, Marian Hossa has no regrets about joining the Red Wings this past year writes’s Dave Lozo.

– Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press writes that fans and pundits can’t blame goalie Chris Osgood for the Wings’ loss.

– After winning his first Cup, Bucky Gleason notes that “Sid Kid” Sidney Crosby isn’t a kid anymore – he’s a bona fide champ.

– Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Wings leave the 2009 season with a quiet, empty feeling.

– Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that gritty Max Talbot turned things around.

Red Wings take 3-2 lead over Penguins in Stanley Cup

The Red Wings took a 3-2 lead in their best of seven Stanley Cup Finals series over the Penguins last night with a convincing 5-0 win and here’s what some local columnist are saying after Detroit’s victory.

– Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wants to know if the Red Wings were supposed to be tired and won 5-0, how would Detroit look rested?

– Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Wings proved last night that the young Pens still have a lot to learn.

– Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that for a moment, the Penguins actually looked like a good squad. (That must have been a quick moment.)

– Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pavel Datsyuk’s return received high praise in Detroit’s locker room.

Related Posts