"He's in that
rare class of athletes who can lift their team," Capitals left wing Brian
Bellows said. "He defines the personality of his team. Their 'no quit'
comes from him."
will not lie down, although he can be leveled--as he was by Capitals menace
Dale Hunter in Game 1. Hunter flattened Yzerman in the Washington crease, used
him as a Barcalounger for a few seconds, then swabbed the ice with his face
before raking his glove across Yzerman's kisser in what hockey players call a
"face wash." When asked the next day if he found the face wash
offensive, Yzerman replied, "Depends on whether it's a new glove or old
glove. Old gloves tend to stink."
Game 1 was one of
those January-in-June matches, as intense as a zephyr. "We got a lead,"
Fedorov said, "and then we stood out there chewing gum or something."
The Red Wings cruised to an early 2-0 advantage, then hung on for the final 10
Of course, hockey
can also be explosive. Exhibit A: Game 2. The Red Wings' Stanley Cup slogan,
Raise your hands!--a reference to their Al the Octopus talisman--was apparently
also what the Capitals were expected to do while asking permission to play with
the puck in the first period. But Detroit's dominance translated into a mere
1-0 lead, Washington put three goals past Osgood in the second period, and the
situation blessedly dictated that the more-skilled Wings play an aggressive,
eye-catching game of catch-up. "We like to play that way," a grinning
Yzerman said the next day. "Our coaches don't." The Caps blew leads of
3-1 and 4-2, with Yzerman's shorthanded goal less than seven minutes into the
third period announcing the Detroit comeback. The Wings won it in overtime on
Kris Draper's goal.
An extra period
wasn't needed in Game 3 because Fedorov scored the game-winner with five
minutes remaining, but Yzerman was the most dangerous forward in the final
minutes even as the Caps pressed. "When the game is on the line, that's
when you see his real value," Bowman says. "We move him from center to
left wing, and he does the job. He's the perfect example for our team because
he's going to make the big play."
series Yzerman positively glowed on the ice, though he was typically modest
afterward. "As my career has gone along, there were times when I began to
wonder if there was something missing in myself. You fall back on the idea that
if you do your best and your teammates do their best, everything will work out,
but I admit to having had some doubts along the way. The perception other
people have of you changes once you win the Cup, but for myself, winning it the
first time reconfirmed what I wanted to believe--even when I was having those
Now he has won two
and a Conn Smythe Trophy. That cottage had better have lots of closet