Friday, June 5, 2009
Today is Grundlovsdag, or "Constitution Day" in Denmark, which celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Danish Constitution in 1849, which severely limited the King's power and secured basic civil rights. This day also honors the Constitution of 1953, which among other things allowed women the right to inherit the throne, which is currently being put to good use by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who became the first woman to hold the Danish throne in 1972.
Constitution Day in Denmark is rather low key compared to other countries, but is a national holiday and June 5th also happens to be Father's Day in Denmark.
Denmark currently ranks 13th in the IIHF Mens' World Rankings and has played at the top level of the World Championships since 2003 after an absence of 54 years. While finding themselves in the Relegation round three out of the last seven years, the Danes have successfully avoided the drop each time. Their highlights at the recent World Championships are considered to be a 5-2 win versus the United States followed by a 2-2 tie against eventual champions Canada six days later in 2003.
Current Danes in the NHL include the Canucks Jannik Hansen, Mikkel Bødker of the Coyotes, Franz Nielsen of the Islanders and the Senators Peter Regin. Other successful Danes currently play in the Swedish Elitserien.
Today's jersey is a 2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard jersey. Damgaard, a defenseman, is the long-time captain of the Danish National Team and has played for Denmark at the World Championships 14 times, leading the team in games played with 240. This jersey features a pair of my custom printed Oddset sponsor patches.
2005 was the high point in my book for international hockey jerseys, as nearly all teams had complete redesigns or very well executed tweaks to their existing jerseys in time for the World Championships in Austria. It was also the last World Championship with the traditional jersey styling and construction before the introduction of the strange feeling, cookie-cutter templated and rather ugly Nike Swift jerseys in 2006. They even sound strange when you are handling one, as the fabric has an audio quality similar to a nylon windbreaker!
Due to either a serious lack of Danish hockey highlights on YouTube or my ability to search for them in Danish, or quite likely a combination of both, my video of choice today is a classic featuring Denmark vs. Japan, with the most emphatic "own goal" in perhaps the history of ice hockey by Japan. Surely one to add to your favorites.
Next up are highlights from the recent 2009 World Championships from an exciting and close fought game when Denmark takes on rivals Norway, featuring several of Denmark's NHLers in a spirited battle to avoid the relegation round, the annual goal at the World Championships for teams at the level of Denmark and Norway. Do not miss the pass the Norwegian makes two minutes into the video to victimize our Mr. Damgaard.
Also from the same game, one of those hits that gives meaning to the phrase "knocked him into next week."
Dasherboard: Well, who thinks we've got a series now? Heck yea! Evgeni Malkin has one hand on the Conn Smythe Trophy with another goal and an assist as the Penguins even the series at two games apiece after the Penguins come from behind - again - with three goals in 5:37 during the second period to send the hometown fans into a white-clad delirium.
After Detroit took the lead in the second, things looked to be headed Detroit's way once more, but the resilient Penguins came roaring back, inspired by a Jordan Staal shorthanded goal, which started the three goal outburst. Sidney Crosby then got his first goal in nearly two weeks on a feed from, of course, Malkin.
Have you noticed how many of Crosby's goals come from a distance of less than six feet? He's got a nose for the net combined with the ability to get wide open at the same time. In a way, he reminds me of Brett Hull, who was always able to find open space to work with, only Hull's open space was much farther out and his cannon of a shot took care of the distance. Regardless of where they score from, you always find yourself asking "How did they let him get so open? Don't they know who he is? You just can't let that happen."
The best was yet to come, as Tyler Kennedy scored the prettiest goal of the night on a great feed from Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots. I wonder when the last time was that a team gave up 40 shots in the Stanley Cup finals and won a game?
With a goal and an assist in Game 4, Malkin now has been involved with seven of the nine Pittsburgh goals in this series.
Tomorrow is a day off and the series resumes back in Detroit for Game 5, where the Red Wings hope hold serve back and put their home ice advantage back to good use by getting the matchups on the ice that proved so effective in the first two games of the series.