Work in Sports
Forsberg everywhere, except the box
Posted: Friday April 28, 2000 12:08 PM
By Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
Did you see No. 21, out there in the home whites? If you were watching the Avalanche's 2-0 Game 1 win over the Red Wings you did. Peter Forsberg wears Colorado's No. 21 and by game's end he had left no swath of ice untouched by his skate blade, no pane of high-glass unshaken by his torso.
Forsberg was everywhere.
Of all the great players in this series -- we might mention Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan for the Red Wings; Joe Sakic, Sandis Ozolinsh for the Avalanche -- no one was greater than Peter the Great. If any one of these players is planning to take hold of the series and make it his own, he should know Forsberg has already established a firm grip.
Maybe you saw him in the first period, bullying his way to the front of the Detroit net, setting a screen. From there he got his stick onto Adam Deadmarsh's wrist shot subtly enough to deflect it past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood: 1-0 Colorado.
Maybe you saw him on the other end, in the second period now, out on the power play. Suddenly Forsberg saw a passing lane. He sent the puck swiftly cross-ice to Ozolinsh at the point, then watched Ozolinsh slap it home for the second goal.
Or maybe you saw him rattling into Red Wing after Red Wing on shift after shift, rarely breaking from his great stride. Once, late in the second period Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios did knock Forsberg down, leveling him behind the Red Wings net. Forsberg rose quickly, found Chelios nearby and took him down hard in the corner.
This play isn't over yet.
The puck was in the corner, too, and by now it was there for anyone to take. Forsberg and Chelios were joined in their fight for it by Red Wings forward Darren McCarty. Chelios and McCarty are two of the two baddest asses on the bad-ass Wings. Now it was both of them against Forsberg. They had Forsberg against the boards.
McCarty delivered a stick across the back, Chelios pummeled away. Forsberg was down to his knees now, but hadn't let Detroit get the puck yet. Then, somehow Forsberg got to his skates and before you realized it the puck was on his stick. And he was coming out of the scrum. He skated a few short strides and managed a backhander on goal.
All game long Forsberg kept smacking into people, kept getting into skirmishes. Yet he never threw an unwise punch, he never raised his stick. The one place you didn't see Forsberg Thursday night was in the penalty box. "I just tried to keep my composure," he said to me after the game. "You get a cross-check it doesn't really matter. You just keep on working."
This was in the Avalanche locker room Thursday night, where Forsberg stood in a sweat-soaked gray T-shirt, his right eye socket swollen and purple. Looking out of that swollen eye, he talked matter-of-factly about what the Avalanche had to do in Game 2, which he promised, "will be a better game." He said it as if he couldn't wait for the next game to begin.
Sports Illustrated staff writer Kostya Kennedy is covering the Stanley Cup
playoffs for the magazine. He will check in periodically with postcards from the
edge of the action.