Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Hat Trick's Better Than Yours

Alexander Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby. The NHL's two biggest stars on the same stage, both scoring goals in the first contest. How would they possibly be able to put forth an encore in game two? Hat tricks for both, perhaps? Nah. Never happen. Except it did in a wild 4-3 win for the Caps to give Washington a 2-0 series lead.

I'm pretty sure Gary Bettman just jizzed in his pants.

That was just ridiculous. Honestly, the NHL couldn't have written a better script for the only hockey game on last night. If you missed it, you missed the best players in the world playing at the top of their games. Crosby strikes first. Then Ovechkin answers. Followed by Crosby again putting PIttsburgh ahead.

With that, you could almost see Ovechkin say to himself, "Fuck this. There's no way in hell Sidney's one-upping me in my own building. No way." And Ovechkin then just completely took the game over, flying all over the ice, getting a hat trick to put away the Pens.

As my roommate so eloquently put it, watching Ovechkin is like watching LeBron. He just does things that make you go, "WOW!" every single game, and each time the puck is on his stick, it's impossible to look away. The guy is just amazing. Of the 33 shots the Caps fired, Ovechkin had 12 of them. Twelve shots in one game. That's twice as many as Evgeni Malkin, the next closest in shots last night.

It was unreal, almost as if Crosby and Ovechkin took it personally that one guy was trying to upstage the other. For any of you out there that like to argue that maybe Crosby isn't even the best player on his own team, let alone the league, take a look at him so far this series. Where Malkin has been invisible, Crosby has gone toe-to-toe with the greatest shooter I've ever seen. Even when it looked as though the Caps had it all locked up with Ovechkin's insane third goal, Crosby wouldn't quit, batting the puck out of midair for his third goal to bring the Pens back within one with 30 seconds left.

These guys are no joke, and yet again, the NHL had another incredible game. Seriously, these playoffs are must-see TV. Lost in the shuffle of the Oveckin-Crosby hat trick fest was the insane play of 21-year-old goaltender Simeon Varlamov. The youngster made 33 saves last night, many in spectacular fashion, like these:

Man, I wish the Flyers could get them one of those. I'm so incredibly happy I watched this game, especially since the Boston-Orlando game wasn't all that close most of the way.

The awesomeness of the night did not end there either. Joe Blanton picked up his first win of the season for the Phils, because, as meech would say, Ryan Howard is a cot damn beast.

In the 5th inning, Howard continued to dominate in his hometown of St. Louis, absolutely crushing a grand slam. His family's reaction was priceless. The Phils scored all six of their runs on home runs, as Jayson Werth had a 2-run bomb in the 4th, giving the Phils the 6-1 win and keeping pace with Florida, still just a half game back from first.

At that point, I was dead tired and ready to go to sleep. There was just one problem, the Lakers-Rockets game was on. How could I resist? Short answer: I couldn't, so I decided to say screw it, and watched.

Before the game started, my roommate asked me if this was even going to be a good series. I told him I don't see why not. Houston is a damn good team that plays tough defense and could give the Lakers, who were called soft in the finals last year, fits. Last night, they did exactly that.

Shane Battier, Ron Artest and Yao Ming all clogged up the lanes and played physical with Kobe, not allowing him to really be himself. Kobe did manage to score 32 points to lead everyone, but it took him 31 shots to get there. And the man had no help at all. Bynum, Gasol and Ariza combined for just 34 points, and Lamar Odom added just 9.

On the flip side, Houston played exactly the way they wanted to, holding the Lakers under 100 in their 100-92 win. Where Kobe got no help from his teammates, the Rockets flourished with their best two players dominating and Aaron Brooks adding that third scoring punch.

Ron Artest, known for his defense and often questionable shot selection, was in the zone, especially early. Ron Ron came out on fire, and for the first time in a long time, he was smart with his shots and finished a very efficient 8-15 from the field, 3-6 from three, for his 21 points, and he added 7 dimes to go along with that.

With Ron playing his best, Yao followed suit. The big man was easily the most dominant player on the floor, completely manhandling Bynum and Gasol inside. His 28 and 10 came in impressive fashion, and he added a steal and two blocks to boot, not to mention going a perfect 10-10 from the line.

The coolest part of the game, for me, was when Yao was injured with about 4 minutes or so left in the game. As he was being walked off and back to the training room, Yao stopped and told the trainers he wanted to get back out there. That showed a lot of guts and toughness that people haven't always associated with Yao.

Make no mistake about it, his presence in those finals minutes was huge. Like I said, he went 10-10 from the line, and his free throws in the closing minutes were crucial to the Rockets holding on. Is an upset possible? Let's hope so. The Rockets do have that lucky charm on their side, a little guy by the name of Brent motherfucking Barry, who's out for revenge.

Be afraid, LA, be very afraid.

BallHype: hype it up!

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