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Why Russians can never avenge ‘Miracle on Ice’ - Brooks NY Post


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#21 devilsfan26

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:29 AM

while this is true, isn't it also true that the US had to win both games in order to win gold... I know it wasn't necessarily a gold medal game, but going into the soviet game we knew we had to win the next two to take gold. Otherwise I think the soviets still could have won if the US lost to Finland.

Or maybe my math is off...

Wikipedia does a great job of explaining the format.  After spending some time playing out various scenarios, it turns out USA actually did not need to win both, but things would have been very tricky otherwise, it's interesting to see what else could have happened though.  There were two groups of six teams, and the top two in each group advanced to the final round.  Turns out their second game of the tournament, a 7-3 win over Czechoslovakia was of utmost importance because a loss there would have resulted in USA finishing third in the pool and Czechoslovakia advancing to the final round while USA would have played Canada in a game to determine fifth place for some reason.

The game against the other team in your group that advanced with you to the final round carries over.  USA tied Sweden and USSR beat Finland, so before the final round started, the standings looked like this:

USSR 2

Sweden 1
USA 1

Finland 0

 

The Miracle on Ice game was the first game of four in the final round, and if USA would have lost, they would have had no chance at a gold medal.  If the Soviets would have tied it up, USA would no longer have control over their own destiny.  They would have had to beat Finland and also hope for Finland to beat Sweden and Sweden to pull off a big upset over the Soviets.  Finland tied Sweden later that day, so if USA and USSR tied, the standings would have been spaced out the same with each team having one game left. 

This would have meant that going into the last day, USA against Finland was a must win but for the final game of the tournament, Sweden-USSR, things would have been pretty tough.  A USSR win would have meant silver for USA.  Another unlikely Soviet tie would have meant a standings tie at the top between USA and USSR which could have resulted in a gold for USA if they would have beaten Finland by three (or maybe two depending on what the next tiebreaker was).  A very unlikely Sweden win over USSR would have resulted in a tie between the Swedes and Americans, and since their goal differentials would have been the same going into that last day (again, this is all a hypothetical situation in which USA and Russia tied) the gold medal would have been decided by who won their game on that last day by a larger margin--USA over Finland or Sweden over Russia.

 

So at the end of the day, USA vs. USSR wasn't 100% a must-win, but it was a must-not-lose.  However, even with a tie there, gold would have been very unlikely because they would have needed USSR to falter again with either a loss or a tie against Sweden, and even then USA would have needed a wide enough goal differential.  By holding off the Russians for those last ten minutes after Eruzione's goal, it put USA in first place in the pool and all they needed to worry about was beating Finland.  As long as they took care of business against Finland, none of the other teams could have caught up to them in the standings, it didn't matter what the goal differentials were or what happened in any of the other games.

 

NOW, since this is my first free day in over two months and I'm up relatively early, let's see what would have happened with a different result against Finland.  Going into the final day, the standings looked like this:

USA 3

USSR 2
Sweden 2

Finland 1 3

A loss to Finland would have really complicated things.  Finland would have pulled into a tie with USA and would have had the tiebreaker.  Going into that last game between Sweden and USSR, things would have been very interesting.  With Sweden and USSR both only one point behind, the winner of that final game would have won gold (ended up being USSR by the score of 9-2) and the loser would finish in fourth and go home with nothing while Finland would leave with silver and USA the bronze.  However, if that Sweden and USSR game would have ended in a tie, it would have resulted in all four teams finishing with three points.  Now I'm not sure if wins was a tiebreaker or if it went straight to goal differential after points, but if it was wins then Sweden would have been gone because they would have ties against all three other teams and no wins.  If it's goal differential, theirs was zero and USSR's would have been -1.  Going into the USA/Finland game, USA's was +1 and Finland's was -2. 

 

If USA would have lost to Finland by anything more than one goal and Sweden and the Soviets tied, USA would not have won gold.  If it was a one goal game, USA would have still had the higher goal differential than Finland and USSR, but would have been tied with Sweden.  I'm not sure what would have happened then, because head-to-head wouldn't solve anything since USA tied Sweden head-to-head.

 

If USA and Finland tied, a winner in the USSR-Sweden game would have tied with USA for first place.  If Sweden wins by one or Russia by two, then their goal differential ties USA and I'm not sure what happens next.  If Sweden wins by more than one or Russia by more than two, then that team wins gold.

 

If anyone knows more about what the tiebreakers were back then or if I am incorrect about anything, please let me know!


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#22 devilsfan26

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:32 AM

To be honest, the past week I've felt the way an honest Rangers fan must feel with the constant harping over the 1994 Stanley Cup. The way the nationwide media are framing this team (and the USA-Russia matchup) in constant reference to the "Miracle" team just reminds me (an honest-to-myself hockey fan) that our American Olympic teams haven't really accomplished all that much in a really really long time. 

 

A couple silvers since then is nothing to write home about. We have a very mediocre history on the world stage when you really step back and look at it. Constantly referencing 1980 just reminds me that this year is gold or bust, I don't think they should be aiming for anything less, considering all the hype we give our national team.

 

 

 

Rangers logic.

I think it's apples and oranges when comparing international sports to pro sports.  The NHL is designed to create parity and result in rotating success by having the less successful teams draft higher and allowing struggling teams to trade valuable current players for picks and prospects.  All teams are much closer to each other skillwise than in international competition, where you can not rely on a draft, trades, or free agency to construct a roster.


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#23 devilsfan26

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:41 AM

Wikipedia does a great job of explaining the format.  After spending some time playing out various scenarios, it turns out USA actually did not need to win both, but things would have been very tricky otherwise, it's interesting to see what else could have happened though.  There were two groups of six teams, and the top two in each group advanced to the final round.  Turns out their second game of the tournament, a 7-3 win over Czechoslovakia was of utmost importance because a loss there would have resulted in USA finishing third in the pool and Czechoslovakia advancing to the final round while USA would have played Canada in a game to determine fifth place for some reason.

The game against the other team in your group that advanced with you to the final round carries over.  USA tied Sweden and USSR beat Finland, so before the final round started, the standings looked like this:

USSR 2

Sweden 1
USA 1

Finland 0

 

The Miracle on Ice game was the first game of four in the final round, and if USA would have lost, they would have had no chance at a gold medal.  If the Soviets would have tied it up, USA would no longer have control over their own destiny.  They would have had to beat Finland and also hope for Finland to beat Sweden and Sweden to pull off a big upset over the Soviets.  Finland tied Sweden later that day, so if USA and USSR tied, the standings would have been spaced out the same with each team having one game left. 

This would have meant that going into the last day, USA against Finland was a must win but for the final game of the tournament, Sweden-USSR, things would have been pretty tough.  A USSR win would have meant silver for USA.  Another unlikely Soviet tie would have meant a standings tie at the top between USA and USSR which could have resulted in a gold for USA if they would have beaten Finland by three (or maybe two depending on what the next tiebreaker was).  A very unlikely Sweden win over USSR would have resulted in a tie between the Swedes and Americans, and since their goal differentials would have been the same going into that last day (again, this is all a hypothetical situation in which USA and Russia tied) the gold medal would have been decided by who won their game on that last day by a larger margin--USA over Finland or Sweden over Russia.

 

So at the end of the day, USA vs. USSR wasn't 100% a must-win, but it was a must-not-lose.  However, even with a tie there, gold would have been very unlikely because they would have needed USSR to falter again with either a loss or a tie against Sweden, and even then USA would have needed a wide enough goal differential.  By holding off the Russians for those last ten minutes after Eruzione's goal, it put USA in first place in the pool and all they needed to worry about was beating Finland.  As long as they took care of business against Finland, none of the other teams could have caught up to them in the standings, it didn't matter what the goal differentials were or what happened in any of the other games.

 

NOW, since this is my first free day in over two months and I'm up relatively early, let's see what would have happened with a different result against Finland.  Going into the final day, the standings looked like this:

USA 3

USSR 2
Sweden 2

Finland 1 3

A loss to Finland would have really complicated things.  Finland would have pulled into a tie with USA and would have had the tiebreaker.  Going into that last game between Sweden and USSR, things would have been very interesting.  With Sweden and USSR both only one point behind, the winner of that final game would have won gold (ended up being USSR by the score of 9-2) and the loser would finish in fourth and go home with nothing while Finland would leave with silver and USA the bronze.  However, if that Sweden and USSR game would have ended in a tie, it would have resulted in all four teams finishing with three points.  Now I'm not sure if wins was a tiebreaker or if it went straight to goal differential after points, but if it was wins then Sweden would have been gone because they would have ties against all three other teams and no wins.  If it's goal differential, theirs was zero and USSR's would have been -1.  Going into the USA/Finland game, USA's was +1 and Finland's was -2. 

 

If USA would have lost to Finland by anything more than one goal and Sweden and the Soviets tied, USA would not have won gold.  If it was a one goal game, USA would have still had the higher goal differential than Finland and USSR, but would have been tied with Sweden.  I'm not sure what would have happened then, because head-to-head wouldn't solve anything since USA tied Sweden head-to-head.

 

If USA and Finland tied, a winner in the USSR-Sweden game would have tied with USA for first place.  If Sweden wins by one or Russia by two, then their goal differential ties USA and I'm not sure what happens next.  If Sweden wins by more than one or Russia by more than two, then that team wins gold.

 

If anyone knows more about what the tiebreakers were back then or if I am incorrect about anything, please let me know!

Welp after doing all this work, I came across these pages that seem to do a better job of explaining some things.  Also it looks like the tiebreaker after goal differential was goals scored.

http://firstroundbye...ice-hockey.html
 

 

The U.S. could clinch it with a win, but if Finland beat the U.S., the winner of Sweden -U.S.S.R. would take gold. And it's not hard to construct a scenario in which Finland wins the gold medal. Imagine if Finland beat the U.S. by 3-0 and the Soviets and Sweden played a 3-3 tie. Then we'd have these standings:
 

Team record pts. goal diff. goals Finland 1-1-1 3 +1 8 USSR 1-1-1 3 0 9 Sweden 0-0-3 3 0 8 USA 1-1-1 3 -1 6
Finland would have been gold medalists, and despite the miracle on ice, the United States would have gone home with nothing.

 

 

http://www.washingto...ies/80-hock.htm

A victory against Finland by the United States Sunday would clinch the gold for the Americans regardless of the outcome of the Soviet Union-Sweden game. If the U.S. and Finland tie, a tie in the other, later game would give the gold to the U.S., as would a victory by the Soviets. A win by Sweden in that game, however, would give the gold to that country on the basis of goal differential.

21st century lesson learned:  never use your brain before using Google. :argh:


What do you guys think of that format though (round robin final round compared to elimination tree that is currently used)?  The knockout games give each game a more tangible meaning and is less complicated, but I think the round robin is a more accurate method of determining a champion because it incorporates each team's performance throughout the entire tournament and it ensures that every good team meets each other face-to-face.  It also eliminates the dilemma we have now where a team wins the silver medal without facing the team that the gold medalist eliminated.  How do we know the bronze medalist wouldn't have beaten the silver medalist if they ended up on that side of the bracket?


Edited by devilsfan26, 17 February 2014 - 11:45 AM.

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#24 NJDevs4978

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:05 PM

You have to have elimination games and a gold medal game, period. The 1980 format could have resulted in a number of oddities like the last game or two meaning nothing towards the gold or someone backing into gold losing the last game, among other things.

Your silver/bronze argument doesn't hold because of the other what ifs - what if for all intents and purposes a team has the gold clinched by their last game (especially since this isn't soccer, you can't play two games in different locales at once), and then sends out their B team and loses a meaningless finale giving someone else the silver as opposed to the bronze that way...or bronze as opposed to no medal at all. Or if one team is totally eliminated by their final game and just packs it in, giving another a goal difference bonanza?

Edited by NJDevs4978, 17 February 2014 - 12:12 PM.

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#25 devilsfan26

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:31 PM

You have to have elimination games and a gold medal game, period. The 1980 format could have resulted in a number of oddities like the last game or two meaning nothing towards the gold or someone backing into gold losing the last game, among other things.

Your silver/bronze argument doesn't hold because of the other what ifs - what if for all intents and purposes a team has the gold clinched by their last game (especially since this isn't soccer, you can't play two games in different locales at once), and then sends out their B team and loses a meaningless finale giving someone else the silver as opposed to the bronze that way...or bronze as opposed to no medal at all. Or if one team is totally eliminated by their final game and just packs it in, giving another a goal difference bonanza?

Your second paragraph I think is why they changed it.  Still though, I think it is a better way to decide a champion for a tournament like this because it stresses the entire tournament as a whole body of work.  It could make for less exciting stories, but I think it is more accurate.  Similarly, I feel that overtime is unnecessary for non-elimination games, but of course it makes for more exciting games which is why we have it.  Obviously getting rid of knockout games and overtime are not even going to be discussed by anyone of importance, but from a pure fairness and accuracy standpoint I think the old way makes more sense.  When you think about it, I think it makes the Miracle on Ice even more impressive because they couldn't rely on top teams being knocked off by others to create an easy road to a gold medal game.  USA had to be top notch throughout the entire tournament.

 

I think the format they use now is horrendous.  Every team advancing makes the round robin almost meaningless, and the seeding for the qualification and quarterfinals is more complicated than it needs to be.  Having three pools forces them to give the fourth bye to a wild card team, which to me isn't fair because it is difficult to compare second place teams in three different pools after playing just three games with no opponents in common.  If they insist on having twelve teams, the most sensible way would seem to have two pools of six and then have the top two to four in each pool advance.  In order to fit a round robin that long, they would have to start the tournament sooner rather than waiting a few days after the Olympics begin, so the NHL probably wouldn't be too happy about that.


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#26 dmann422

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 01:11 PM

Stated perfectly. The press needs a narrative. Its even worse now that you have people who couldn't tell you what offsides is, trying to add to the narrative.






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I was doing a face palm watching al michaels interview tretiak and larionov seperately and the first three questions he asked both of them were about that game... I mean I'm sure both of those guys aren't really thinking about one game that happened 3 decades ago, they're focusing on winning now.
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#27 NJDevs4978

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:19 PM

I think the format they use now is horrendous. Every team advancing makes the round robin almost meaningless, and the seeding for the qualification and quarterfinals is more complicated than it needs to be. Having three pools forces them to give the fourth bye to a wild card team, which to me isn't fair because it is difficult to compare second place teams in three different pools after playing just three games with no opponents in common. If they insist on having twelve teams, the most sensible way would seem to have two pools of six and then have the top two to four in each pool advance. In order to fit a round robin that long, they would have to start the tournament sooner rather than waiting a few days after the Olympics begin, so the NHL probably wouldn't be too happy about that.

I don't like the everyone makes the knockout round thing either but you know why they do it, so that the non-NHL All Star teams get at least one knockout round game instead of just having the last spot or two be more or less randomized based on who gets the weaker pool and everyone else show up to be eliminated in 2-3 games.

And I'm not sure basing anything on seven games with All-Star merc's over two weeks is going to be any more fair to begin with, especially with the shootout factor. Not to mention there isn't enough time to play every team regardless.

Edited by NJDevs4978, 17 February 2014 - 02:27 PM.

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#28 Mike Brown

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:28 PM

They basically give every team 4 games in the Olympics minimum.  I don't have a problem with it.


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#29 DJ Eco

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:29 PM

I think it's apples and oranges when comparing international sports to pro sports.  The NHL is designed to create parity and result in rotating success by having the less successful teams draft higher and allowing struggling teams to trade valuable current players for picks and prospects.  All teams are much closer to each other skillwise than in international competition, where you can not rely on a draft, trades, or free agency to construct a roster.

 

Nah, I agree, but as a true hockey fan, I shake my head during some of these "remember 1980" moments, or when they interview someone and that's the question they ask (like retired Russian players can't stop thinking about the Miracle On Ice; I'm sure they got over it next Olympics when they won gold again).

 

As a pragmatic fan, it just reminds me of the whole Rangers/1994 coverage we're always making fun of lol...


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#30 Mike Brown

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:31 PM

Nah, I agree, but as a true hockey fan, I shake my head during some of these "remember 1980" moments, or when they interview someone and that's the question they ask (like retired Russian players can't stop thinking about the Miracle On Ice; I'm sure they got over it next Olympics when they won gold again).

 

As a pragmatic fan, it just reminds me of the whole Rangers/1994 coverage we're always making fun of lol...

 

Yea I cringe every time they refer to 1980 every chance they get.  This year it made sense though in a way.  Just imagine a US vs Russia gold medal game though.  1980 will be all they talk about.


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#31 Colorado Rockies 1976

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:47 PM

Nah, I agree, but as a true hockey fan, I shake my head during some of these "remember 1980" moments, or when they interview someone and that's the question they ask (like retired Russian players can't stop thinking about the Miracle On Ice; I'm sure they got over it next Olympics when they won gold again).

 

As a pragmatic fan, it just reminds me of the whole Rangers/1994 coverage we're always making fun of lol...

 

The funny thing, is when you look at that game from a strictly pragmatic/forensic standpoint, it wasn't like the Americans' game plan really worked wonders.  The US only managed 16 shots on goal to Russia's 40...the Russian team was getting its opportunities, just couldn't finish enough...and Russian players from that team said that they were so used to getting so many scoring opportunities against their opponents, that they often didn't try to make the very most of them, as they figured they'd just keep getting more as the game went on.  Tretiak hadn't really been playing all that well leading up to the Olympics and didn't really play terribly well in the Olympics either.  That's not to take anything at all away from the US in winning that game (Jim Craig was terrific in shutting the Russians down after he gave up the third goal), but that Russian squad wasn't playing its finest hockey in that tournament either...both Finland and Canada showed that team to be vulnerable and not quite on top of their game. 


Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976, 17 February 2014 - 03:47 PM.

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#32 DJ Eco

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:46 PM

The funny thing, is when you look at that game from a strictly pragmatic/forensic standpoint, it wasn't like the Americans' game plan really worked wonders.  The US only managed 16 shots on goal to Russia's 40...the Russian team was getting its opportunities, just couldn't finish enough...and Russian players from that team said that they were so used to getting so many scoring opportunities against their opponents, that they often didn't try to make the very most of them, as they figured they'd just keep getting more as the game went on.  Tretiak hadn't really been playing all that well leading up to the Olympics and didn't really play terribly well in the Olympics either.  That's not to take anything at all away from the US in winning that game (Jim Craig was terrific in shutting that Russians down after he gave up the third goal), but that Russian squad wasn't playing its finest hockey in that tournament either...both Finland and Canada showed that team to be vulnerable and not quite on top of their game. 

 

Oh I agree completely. Maybe I have the unpopular opinion here but I think we stole that win; there were loooong moments throughout the 1st and 2nd where they were in our zone and we weren't generating anything. Their defense was way more sound than I thought it would be and they shut us down. They made Patrick Kane look bad, he was coughing up pucks left and right. We found a way to win, which is good, but not ideal moving forward. I wouldn't look forward to playing Russia again, I can tell you that.

 

I knew if we someone squeezed out a win, most people would forget all of the complains people had about the American roster, but I think a lot of the things and shortcomings we thought the American roster would have still hold true. A whole lot of grit, but not enough players like Phil Kessel (or Ovechkin, Semin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, etc.)...


Edited by DJ Eco, 17 February 2014 - 03:47 PM.

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#33 Colorado Rockies 1976

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:50 PM

Oh I agree completely. Maybe I have the unpopular opinion here but I think we stole that win; there were loooong moments throughout the 1st and 2nd where they were in our zone and we weren't generating anything. Their defense was way more sound than I thought it would be and they shut us down. They made Patrick Kane look bad, he was coughing up pucks left and right. We found a way to win, which is good, but not ideal moving forward. I wouldn't look forward to playing Russia again, I can tell you that.

 

I knew if we someone squeezed out a win, most people would forget all of the complains people had about the American roster, but I think a lot of the things and shortcomings we thought the American roster would have still hold true. A whole lot of grit, but not enough players like Phil Kessel (or Ovechkin, Semin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, etc.)...

 

Not sure if you read my post right...I was talking about the '80 win against the Russians, not the '14 win, which is what you are referring to.  I wasn't able to see that game, don't know many details about that game other than shootout shooters getting multiple attempts, and the disallowed Russian goal due to the net being off its moorings.


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#34 devilsfan26

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 04:05 PM

Nah, I agree, but as a true hockey fan, I shake my head during some of these "remember 1980" moments, or when they interview someone and that's the question they ask (like retired Russian players can't stop thinking about the Miracle On Ice; I'm sure they got over it next Olympics when they won gold again).

 

As a pragmatic fan, it just reminds me of the whole Rangers/1994 coverage we're always making fun of lol...

Yeah the interviews are kind of ridiculous and I agree there probably aren't any Russians that are still bummed about it, but it was such a big upset that it for us it should be bigger than the Rangers 94 Cup should be to them since every NHL team should theoretically have equal footing, so every Stanley Cup championship is equal to the prior and following one.  I think the fact that the 1980 US team was a bunch of college kids that hated each other months prior taking down the best professional hockey team in the world makes it more acceptable to be brought up still today, especially when you consider that the Olympics attract mainstream people that otherwise don't care for hockey and the Miracle on Ice was a hockey moment that non-hockey fans can relate to.  I think they are just trying to make the current games more compelling for those people whereas the Rangers' ongoing 94 celebration has more of a "look how good we were that time" vibe to it.


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#35 CHIP72

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:23 PM

Next month's Brooks article: "Why Devils can never avenge 'The Guarantee'"

 

I think the national media has already read that article and bought into it.  :doh1:


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#36 DJ Eco

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 10:24 AM

I think the national media has already read that article and bought into it.  :doh1:

 

I've been playing NHL 14 on X-Box the past month since my girlfriend got it for me for Christmas. While the "commentators" do acknowledge our playoff run from a few years ago at some point during most games, when you play the Rangers they talk about all the "chapters" in the rivalry and Gary Thorne says something like, he remembers the 1994 chapter very well, and then ends it there, doesn't mention 2012; blew me away first time I heard it last week. It doesn't come up everytime Devils play the Rangers but it does sometimes.


Edited by DJ Eco, 18 February 2014 - 10:24 AM.

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