The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights put on a display of all that is enjoyable about sports Wednesday evening, the Avalanche winning 3-2 in overtime to take a two-games-to-none lead in the NHL Western Conference finals.
After a forgettable first game in which Colorado steamrolled an exhausted Vegas squad 7-1, the second game in the series figured to be anything but a snoozer with the Golden Knights rested and ready. And oh, did both teams deliver.
Ridiculous saves by both Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Colorado netminder Philipp Grubauer, each amply demonstrating why they are both up for this year’s Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL’s best goalie. Skills and speed on both sides, with Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon demonstrating time and again puck handling skills beyond the reach of mere mortals. Shots hitting the post. Defensive plays thwarting what looked to be easy breakaways. It was action plus from start to finish; tense drama the likes of which Hollywood can only dream of creating.
The game was enveloping regardless of whether one had a rooting interest. It was the game itself that starred; finesse and force merged together into a breathtaking whole. If the ugly hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans by Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele earlier in the evening was hockey at a decidedly sub-par level, this was the game at its most exhilarating.
More than a few sports fans have become former sports fans in recent years, alienated by players aided and abetted by teams and leagues embracing political correctness and seemingly devoting far more time and energy competing for the mythical Woker-Than-Thou title than their sport’s actual championship. It is understandable why folk have tuned out. However, games such as last night’s serve as a potent reminder of why doing so is self-depreciatory.
Sport’s purpose is the enjoyment of watching those who do things we cannot perform at the highest level. Many people can ice skate. Not many can rip off hundred-plus miles an hour slapshots or stop said slapshot from entering the goal net. It is the breathtaking action;
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