Ladies and gentlemen… We have a game 7.
Now, I realize I haven’t written about hockey since the playoffs started (a lot of that had to do with how poorly I predicted the first round) but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching. I’ve been glued to my television for the past two months when it comes to hockey. In fact, up until the NBA Finals I was prepared to say that the NHL playoffs had beaten out the NBA playoffs in terms of drama and overall excitement. We had only one game 7 in 4 rounds of playoff basketball. The NHL on the other hand has already had 6 game 7’s, not including tonight’s season finale.
Do I plan on watching game 7 tonight? Absolutely. Playoff hockey is unlike anything else. You can feel the intensity on the ice from your couch, table, bar stool, what have you. Literally every puck possession, every shot, and every save matters. Hockey isn’t like other sports. You’re more likely to see a 1-0 nail biter than you are to see a 5-4 scoringfest. Because of this, the intensity level tends to have an inverse relationship with the time left on the clock. (The deeper into the game you get, the more likely it is you’ll see someone lose a few chicklets)
So tonight the 2011 NHL season will culminate with the 16th game 7 in Stanley Cup history and the first since the Penguins upset Detroit in 2009. With the way the series has gone so far between the Canucks and Bruins, one has to feel as if a Canucks victory is the most likely outcome. The home team has won all 6 games in the series thus far. Then again, look at how the games have played out. While the Bruins have dominated the Canucks in Boston (and potentially become the cause of years of intense psycho therapy for Roberto Luongo in the process, outscoring Vancouver 17-3) it has been quite the opposite in Vancouver. Each game in Vancouver has been won by a 1 goal margin. (In game 1 the Canucks scored with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. In game 2 they scored 11 seconds into overtime. Boston was potentially 29 seconds of piss poor hockey away from sweeping this series. Instead we’re treated to a game 7. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.)
Undoubtedly, tonight’s game is going to come down to goal tending and you couldn’t have two teams with more different situations unfolding. Boston’s Tim Thomas has been a brick wall in this series allowing a total of 8 goals in 6 games. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo allowed 8 goals in one game, 19 total in the six games. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Thomas is going to show up big time for the Bruins. The question remains which Luongo is going to show up in net for the Canucks, the dominating version who has shut out the Bruins twice in this series or the one that looks like a beaver trying to dam up Niagra Falls with a twig. The one thing Canuck fans have going for them is that Luongo has been absolutely clutch at home in this series. Maybe his mental issues will find a way to not present themselves tonight and he’ll play like the gold medal winning goalie he’s capable of being.
Adding more fuel to the fire of what already been a series featuring biting, fighting, concussion inducing hits, and broken vertebrae, Canucks star Daniel Sedin guaranteed victory for Vancouver yesterday. Apparently he decided to channel his inner Mark Messier and really piss off the Bruins. Apparently he didn’t feel like the Bruins were pissed off enough. It’s not like the Bruins are most physically dominating team in the NHL or anything. Good job, Daniel… maybe he can figure out a way to blame it on Henrik. Then again, if the Canucks do manage to pull this off and win the first cup in Vancouver’s tortured 40-year history Sedin’s words may become the stuff of legends.
I know this is America and I know a lot of you think hockey is a stupid sport, but if you’re truly a fan of sports you’ll find a way to watch this game tonight. There is no basketball, football has found a way to make itself irrelevant at the moment, and baseball is in the middle of its annual 162 game marathon. Why not take a break from all of that and treat yourself to some drama. There aren’t a lot of guarantees in life, but one thing I’m willing to guarantee is that tonight’s game is sure to be an epic one. Why not enjoy it?
And who knows, maybe you won’t have any words for what you’re watching… Game on!
(By the way, the NHL’s commercial campaign has thoroughly kicked the crap out of the NBA’s this postseason. The “History will be made” clips and now the “No words” clip are a million time better than some stupid talking basketball.)