Work in Sports
E for Effort
For Lindros, hockey has always been child's play
Posted: Thursday May 25, 2000 12:15 AM
By Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
Twenty-five miles north of Philadelphia, hard by the shoulders of I-95 -- the road that takes you from Philly to the Jersey swamp -- you find Sesame Place. This is an amusement park. Ernie hangs out there, and his single-eyebrowed sidekick Bert, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang.
We mention it so that we can in good conscience steal a phrase. As someone from the Street might say: Game 6 of the NHL's Eastern Conference finals was brought to you by the letter E.
E is for Eric Lindros.
Lindros returned from a string of concussions Wednesday and put his oft-battered brain on the line for the first time in two months. Somehow, even as the Devils defense shut down the Flyers for the second straight game, even as perennial playoff hero Claude Lemieux lifted New Jersey to knot this series at 3-3, Game 6 was all about the Big E.
E is for eighty-eight, the number on Lindros's back, a number you couldn't miss even from the highest reaches of the Meadowlands arena. "For a guy being off for two months I was impressed at how well he played," said Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko. "He made some great plays for them which makes him another weapon that we have to be aware of."
E is for excitement, and Lindros can't help but generate that. He played 14:47 on Wednesday night and the Devils knew every moment he was out there.
Two minutes into the game he beat John Madden on a faceoff. On the same shift he barreled into 6-foot-, 210-pound forward Steve Kelly, nearly knocking Kelly into the Devils bench. He wasn't playing like man coddling his head.
E is for error, which is what some in the hockey community felt the Flyers were making when they decided to let the rusty Lindros play in the game. But though the Flyers lost 2-1, and though some may wonder whether his electric presence altered the magnificent mojo that the Flyers had been thriving on, playing Lindros was no mistake.
E is for execution. In the second period Lindros won another faceoff, this time in the waning moments. He pulled the puck back to Mark Recchi and then -- Meadowlands traffic be damned -- he swept to the net. He was there to get the puck back on his stick blade and then he beat Martin Brodeur with a gorgeous, high shot, long-side. The puck went in, but the end-of the period horn had already sounded and Lindros and the Flyers skated off tied at 0-0.
E is for elbow, more than a few of which Lindros absorbed in the final minutes before he did score. He converted a pass from Keith Primeau with 29 seconds to play for the Flyers one and only strike. This is no silent E.
E is for equanimity, which is how even those Flyers who have been less than enamored with Lindros in recent months treated his return. "He showed his skill," Recchi said. "And he'll be better on Friday."
E is for endless, which is what seemed to be the wait for Lindros to emerge from the Flyers locker-room after the game. "I felt more comfortable as the game went along," Lindros said when he did come out. "We just have to re-group and get ready for Game 7."
E is for even, which is how this series stands and E is for encore, which is what Lindros will deliver - for better or worse -- on Friday night.
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.