|Posted on July 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM|
Game Four of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks was one of the most memorable games in National Hockey League history.
Although the Penguins - led by some of the league's most powerful forces - may have won their second Stanley Cup in two years, what many remember this game for is freshfaced Dominik Hasek's incredible individual effort, carrying his team and almost stealing the contest for Chicago, losing by just one goal, 6-5.
After an uncharacteristally shaky performance letting in two goals on four shots, Ed Belfour, nicknamed Steddy Eddie, was pulled, and in came Hasek. I doubt many spectators realized that they were watching a Czech Sensation being born.
He made never before seen saves: skating out of the net and diving for the puck, lunging and rolling around his crease, stacking the pads and robbing players. It was revolutionary at the time. Hasek's performance defined his innovative style of play that was renowned over his entire career.
This type of goaltending has become a lost art in today's game.
What makes the story even more crazy is the fact that Hasek still had the guts to attempt what he did despite the circumstances: he was a 10th round pick by Chicago with only 30 games of NHL experience (regular season and playoffs), this was his first ever game in the Stanley Cup Finals and he was staring in the face of elimination.
Dominik Hasek was never afraid to give the game some of his own flare.
He may have only had 21 saves on 25 shots - giving him an ugly .849 SP% - but people saw something special in Hasek's game, especially the Buffalo Sabres management who acquired the goaltender in the off-season. He spent his next nine seasons in the city, winning six Vezina Trophies - an NHL record.
Just over a week ago, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. One of the biggest highlights of his career is the fact that he is the goaltender with the highest regular season save percentage in NHL history at .922 (for goalies with a minimum of 700 games played). Obviously, that one playoff game's statistic didn't reflect his legandary career.
For Pittsburgh, this was likely the greatest team the club has ever had. Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr were all lethal forces leading the team's offense. Today, the three players are all top ten in NHL history for most career points. Two of them are also Hall of Famers, and Jagr, undoubtedly, will be too soon after he retires.
Not to mention, Tom Barrasso, the starting goaltender for both of Penguins' Stanley Cup wins (1991, 1992), is a former all star and the second most winningest US-born goaltender in history.
The franchise's back-to-back Cup wins reassured that Pittsburgh really was the City of Champions.
Below are my favourite GIFs from the Game Four classic:
1. In my opinion, Hasek's best and most entertaining save from the match, skating out to center ice and diving at Kevin Stevens, robbing the forward.
2. Mario Lemieux shows off some cool stick tricks during a stoppage.
3. Behind the bench for the Penguins is a young Scotty Bowman (head coach) and Pierre McGuire (assistant coach).
4. Representing the Blackhawks are also very young versions of Mike Keenan (head coach) and Darryl Sutter (assistant coach).
5. A fan makes a great catch in the crowd snagging the puck.