20W, no. 8; newsletter by b.n.)
Sometimes I forget that the Wednesday Night Pirates are coming off a back-to-back Championship seasons. In that span of time (from May-December 2004), the Pirates lost a grand total of three games. Going into this past Wednesday's game, the Pirates had lost that many games in the last three weeks. In fact, the Pirates were riding an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak — how the heck did that happen? I don't know, but I have a couple theories:
Theory 1: It's Russ's fault
Hey, he's not even on the Wednesday roster, so its really unfair to blame our four-game debacle on him, but I am fairly certain that if he had been present he would have stepped-up and won a couple of those games for us.
Theory 2: It's #67's fault
Just as it is hard to believe after suffering through four straight losses that the Pirates ever won anything, it is hard to believe that #67 was ever considered a goal scorer (I think there were actually seasons where #67 was in contention for the scoring title going into the final game of the season — of course that was back in the day when the Pirates played the Geriatrics twice a season). Going into the final game of this season, #67 hadn't scored a goal and his two points for the season were among his lowest point totals ever accumulated.
Theory 3: It's the pants
Nobody seemed to notice, but the black-and-white zebra pants that #67 always wore into the rink have not been seen for the past couple weeks. Hey, its been cold and the pants aren't very warm when you are standing in arctic temperatures at the post-game meeting
Theory 4: It's Mike's fault
With all that said, it is hard to believe that the Pirates still had a shot of making the playoffs. Sporting a horrible 2-4-1 record and going into the final game of the regular season, one would think the defending Champs could not possibly garner a post-season spot. But that was not the case: Apparently if the Lightning beat the Ducks and the Pirates could beat the Jaguars, then the Pirates would then tie the Jags for the final spot but would get the nod because they just beat the Jags. Simple, eh? It turns out that the only division worse then the NFC East this year was the Wednesday night “B” division.
So going into the game, the Pirates needed something. A spark ... a speech ... something. Mike Farrell needed to step-up and say: “Come on boys, jump on my back and I'll carry this team through the playoffs.” But none of that happened. Instead, the Pirates had a quiet determination that carried them into the game. For the first time in 2005 the MNM-line (“m&m” — get it?) was back in action as The Miller Bros. and #67 took the drop of the puck with Dave and Keith manned the blueline. Before the first shift was even half over, Scott Miller picked-up a puck along the far boards and fed # 67 who wristed a shot that beat the Jag goalie just above his glove. The second line of Chris-Wildman-Jimmy kept the pressure up while Mike and Kevin stood tall on the blueline. The MNM-line got everyone involved later in the 1st period when Scott Miller skated down the far boards and centered the puck; his brother tried to grab it, but instead re-directed it to #67 who cranked it in for the 2-0 lead. Eclipsing the brilliant play of the Pirates in the 1st period, however, would be the Jags' shorthanded tally with just 1:40 remaining in the period. So going in the break, the game was still a 2-1 nail biter.
In the final period, the wheels came off the proverbial cart —well, at least from the Jags' perspective. For the Pirates, it was the time for big guns to step up. Jimmy Ferraro got the —“Ferraro Show” going on a pass from Keith; Jimmy was able to skate in and beat the goalie glove-side to regain the crucial two-goal lead. Jimmy followed that up with a goal off a pass from Wildman to put the Pirates up 4-1. Late in the period, Keith took a pass from Evan and cranked a shot from the blueline that beat the goalie because of a screen from the cluster of humanity in front of the net. Before the period was out there was only one thing left for Jimmy to accomplish and, after taking a pass from Mike Farrell, Jimmy put the puck past the goalie to complete the hattrick and close out the night's scoring.
But the story doesn't end there. The Pirates made the playoffs and they live happily ever after. Goodnight.
1) JIMMY FERRARO
For his eighth career hattrick and for clinching the Richard and Art Ross trophies.
2) BRIAN NEWCOMB
For proving once-and-for-all that the Pirates are better off when #67 stays as far away from the Pirates' net as possible.
For allowing just one goal and stopping a barrage of breakaways, but not being mentioned at all in Brian's newsletter.