Gabby advances

2009 April 29

About 9 years, 11 months ago, Bruce Boudreau’s team faced a 3-1 playoff series deficit. That time it was behind the Mississippi Sea Wolves‘ bench in the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals against the Richmond Renegades. It was surprising, given how they’d plowed through the first three series, losing once in 11 games.

The Sea Wolves turned around and beat Richmond 2-0. Boudreau’s club exploded for a 7-3 victory in Richmond that sent the series back to Biloxi.

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum sold out in a matter of hours for Game 7, which was played May 30. I’d have to go dig in the archives, but it was one of the last, if not the last, sellout in team history. The final game easily surpassed any dream you might have had for a deciding game. (Other, that is, for it ending super late because of the length of the game which started late because of a high school graduation, crushing the Sun Herald‘s deadlines.) The Sea Wolves were down 3-1 in the third period before scoring twice, including Bob Woods‘ goal in the dying seconds, then winning it in double overtime.

I thought about all that tonight while watching Boudreau’s post-game press conference. An early question was about Sergei Federov, who had the third-period game-winner for the Washington Capitals. I thought he’d been shaky in the two games I’d gotten to see during the series; the brain producing lots of good ideas his stick couldn’t quite pull off. Well, he had one last inspired idea against the New York Rangers, ripping a shot from the faceoff circle over Henrik Lundqvist’s glove. That reminded me of Kelly Hurd, the Sea Wolves captain who started their Game 7 comeback with a move that still leaves me short of words to describe how stunning it was. He completely undressed a pair of defenders before beating Maxime Gingras. (I’d pay to get a tape of Game 7, if anybody has it.)

That reminded me of something Boudreau told me when I interviewed him in Lowell, Mass., where he was coaching the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters a couple years later. He said that the championship teams had lots of things in common, like role players, star players adapting to new roles, etc. He really feels there’s a blueprint you either try to use to assemble the team or turn around at the end of the run and say, Yeah, we had it going there.

It’s easy to pick out coincidences when you look at things in the rear-view mirror of the history books. But maybe Gabby’s getting on another roll. It’ll certainly be fun to watch Ovechkin vs. Crosby, even if it’s from afar and limited to a game or two on network TV.

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