By William R. Eller
Injuries affect every team, in every sport, in every country. These injuries bother teams more then others and even help teams more then others. After game four I got to thinking about some of the playoff injuries the Pittsburgh Penguins have had to deal with in their playoff history. We will have to wait and see how Sergei Gonchar and the Penguins play after Gonchar’s injury in last night’s game 4.
Kevin Stevens in game seven versus the New York Islanders began to forecheck as only Stevens could do, with desire and passion and a willingness to demand the puck. Going in without thinking of the dangers of professional hockey he lead with his body, and his face hit the shield of Richard Pilon. The injury stunned the crowd and the fans in Pittsburgh. "The doctors told me," said Stevens, "that my face looked like a potato chip. A stepped-on potato chip." Stevens came back to the pens the following year, but was never the same; his game was in the boards and in the front of the net. It always seemed he was afraid to get hit after that injury. What was the result of the game 7 you ask… David Volek is all I have to say.
Kjell Samulesson was the laid back Samulesson of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the mid-90’s, only because the other was Ulf Samulesson. During the playoffs of the 94-95 series the Penguins were in another series against the Washington Capitals. Michael Pivonka got his stick up and cross-checked Kjell in the forehead. The series was one of the toughest in the history of the Penguins. Back and forth the teams went in this series, the series went seven games. But the series will be remembered with Petr Nedved in the fourth OT in game 5.
In the newest playoffs series in the history of the Penguins and the Washington Capitals the young stars are in full shine. The intensity and passion of this series quite frankly is unbelievable, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are put on a show in game 2 both scoring hat tricks. After game three the Capitals still held a 2-1 series lead and game four was probably going to be pivotal for the rest of the series. In the middle of the first period the Capitals were on the power play, with the puck down deep Sergei Gonchar attempted to get the puck out and Ovechkin ran Gonchar. Sergei slid out, but Ovechkin’s knee was out and hit Sergei’s knee causing Gonch to fly threw the air. Gonchar the leader of the Penguins power play may not return this series and may cost the Penguins.
In the 1992 Conference Finals vs. the New York Rangers the Penguins were on their way to repeat as Stanley Cup Champs. The Penguins jumped to a 1-0 series lead in Madison Square Garden winning game one 4-2. Game two began as Kevin Stevens scored only 1:29 into the game and it silenced the MSG crowd. Could the Penguins steal the first two games on the road, four minutes later the Rangers announced it wouldn’t be easy. The “Slash” that no Pens fan will forget happens when Adam Graves two hands Mario Lemieux. Mario down and out, Graves only got two minutes. How would the Penguins respond? Three third period goals gave the Rangers the win and the series was tied at two. After game three started with enemy number one scoring the first goal and the Rangers won game three. Now Graves got his suspension, the Penguins got redemption and went on to win the series 4-2. How did Mario respond after his series ending injury? Scoring the game winner in game one of the finals with 12.6 seconds left. Simply put, Buries It.