The Ice Sheet: Left for Dead Again

Every day from Monday to Saturday, The Ice Sheet will take a look at the biggest stories in the league that happened on the ice and elsewhere the night before.

There may be a lot of you who are surprised there is hockey this weekend.

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I'll freely admit to being one of them. I'm even more surprised that there are two games this weekend.

Both the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers were left for dead after falling behind 3-0 in their respective series. Even though they were playing on home ice, they were heavy underdogs in Game Four.

They both got the job done. Their prize? They're being left for dead entering road games this weekend.

While I think it would be outright lunacy to predict one of these series will be extended, you can't rule it out. After all, most of you ruled out these series even going five games, and here we are.

Dallas tries first, as they face Detroit Saturday in "Hockeytown". We'll be live-blogging the game here at FanHouse, so join us for the action starting at 1pm Eastern.

Can this added confidence carry the Stars to a Game Five upset?

(Still to come: The conference finals indeed continue, NBC prays for a regulation end to Saturday's game, and a YouTube to remember from the incomparable Tie Domi)

The Red Wings looked dominant at times in Games One and Three, and practically ran the Stars off their own rink in the third game. However, Detroit looked beatable at times in the even-numbered games.

I'm a big believer in the power of confidence on a team. Dallas got a lead, played pretty well with it, and found a way to beat a team that had just pounded them two nights earlier. Marty Turco was outstanding in Game Four after a poor performance in Game Three.

Obviously, Dallas has to overcome some things in Saturday's game. Most notably, the Stars have to overcome the almost undeniable fact that Detroit is the better team. It's one thing to beat a team that's better than you once, on your home ice. It's another to come back a couple days later and beat that same team in their place. Oh, and that team you need to beat? They're 7-0 at home in the playoffs. Good luck, boys.

If the Stars can find a way to win Game Five, they'd be back home Monday night to try to force Game Seven.

Can the Flyers do it? jumping all over Pittsburgh

When they meet Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Flyers will have a tall task. There's talk that Kimmo Timonen may play Sunday, which would be a great boost to Philly's beleaguered defensemen. They held on late in Game Four despite looking quite fatigued. They appeared to wear down late in the third game of the series.

In order to win an elimination game on the road Sunday, they're going to have to stay physical with Pittsburgh's stars.

(Put it this way, Mike Richards isn't trying to do the samba with Sidney Crosby in that photo to the right.)

They need Martin Biron to continue to play like he did Thursday night. It's not too much to ask, as Biron played like that for much of the first two rounds.

In the end, however, I think Pittsburgh is the better team (similarly to Detroit being better than Dallas). The Penguins will prevail eventually, and I think it's a good bet that they'll get it done Sunday at home.

Having Versus would be a good thing, just in case. I'm sure many of you have already done the requisite research on this topic, but we're here to serve.

Last year, you may remember NBC cutting out of the Ottawa-Buffalo playoff game so they could bring us the stirring six-hour lead-up to the Preakness.

(Okay, it wasn't six hours. More like four.)

Anyway, it caused an uproar among hockey fans. That's understandable, but it doesn't change the fact that NBC was obligated to make the switch.

This year, they've done a somewhat better job of planning ahead for the possibility of a long hockey game. The network says they will stick with the hockey game through one overtime, at which point the game will switch to Versus if it's still going on. That way, NBC can get their coverage of the horse race on the air at a decent time, satisfying its larger pool of viewers and more lucrative advertisers.

Clearly, it's in the best interests of NBC to work with both partners. Horse racing has itsflaws, no question, but it's still much more popular than hockey. That said, the NHL has enjoyed some decent ratings increases during these playoffs, and they have a loud, passionate, loyal fan base.

Recommended reading. Jes Golbez would like Crosby to shave. Frankly, I disagree. I feel the playoff beards are a tradition, and guys should be encouraged to play along. Bad beards are part of the game. It's also amusing when you get a guy like Scott Niedermayer, who has all the money you could ask for, but is too cheap to buy a box of Just for Men.

Among Matt Saler's notes is the revelation that Bill McCreary's Mustache will work Game Five in Detroit. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning Newspicks it up from there.

This would be the same Bill McCreary who Stars captain Brenden Morrow said on his radio show Thursday ``made up'' a call in Game 1 to ``even the score'' with Stars' rookie defenseman Mark Fistric, who apparently did not show the proper amount of respect to McCreary during Game 5 of the Anaheim series.

When asked about a roughing call on Mark Fistric made in Game 1 that handed Detroit a 5-on-3 power play, Morrow responded on his show on KTCK The Ticket:

``That was a very phantom call. I think that was just a little payback for something that happened in the Anaheim series between Fisty and McCreary. That's just my opinion, but I think that's something that was made up. I think there was a little grudge between referee and player where he felt he wanted to even up the score. You never want to see those things.''

It's worth noting that Fistric has mono and isn't playing Saturday. However, this seems to me to be a situation the NHL should have worked harder to avoid. Actually, it wouldn't take much effort at all. Just bizarre.

Also, Greg Wyshynski talks about marriages of athletes and teams that never should have happened. To this day, I refuse to acknowledge that Mark Messier ever played for Vancouver, so I see Greg's point.

Random YouTube glory. Penguin fans think this should happen to Philadelphia fans more often. Thank you, Tie Domi.

We'd love to hear your tips, ideas, comments, thoughts, and what-not. Feel free to drop us a line at nhlfanhouse@googlegroups.com.

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