Everything Else

Decision Day

I’ve seen people in some circles complain that we had to wait nearly a full month into the Stanley Cup Playoffs to get a Game 7. None in the first round and all that. Me? I love it.

Game 7s should be the thing you never want to get to. The “Please Don’t Make Us Do This” level. The absolute last resort. The “We’ve tried everything else and now this is the only way we can reach a conclusion. This is our only path to catharsis.” They should only happen a couple times per spring, to keep them special.

Because if you get a spring full of them… most of them turn out to be pretty disappointing. Rarely do you get November 2nd in Cleveland (and I still would have happily taken an easy, 6-3 Cubs win and been just as happy thank you very much) or Seabrook’s shot tipping off Kronwall’s stick and over Jimmy Howard or… well, we won’t mention that other Game 7 at home.

There were four Game 7s last year. You remember the one in St. Louis. Probably the pick of the bunch. The Ducks folding again to the Predators was obviously endlessly entertaining but not great theater. The Blues finally cracking a Dallas team without a goalie most certainly wasn’t either. I barely remember the Penguins-Lightning Game 7 as that whole series was such a snooze.

The year before… not much better. Lightning over Red Wings… basically just a market correction. The Capitals-Islanders was a car wreck. Rangers over Capitals for the 78th year in a row? Blech. The Hawks beating the Ducks in Game 7 is a cherished memory for all of us but hardly a classic. I could go on.

But tonight, this is something, because there’s more than advancing to the next round riding on this. You feel like the whole Capitals franchise could break if they don’t get this. They’re headed for cap hell, and after everything that’s happened with them this has to be the year. They might not get another one.

The Penguins are headed for some financial problems too, however this goes. But given their previous hardware and the youth they have, this feels like it’s just a chance to swirly the Capitals again, merely for the fun of it. There’s a grinning cat feel to this for them.

Meanwhile, on the other coast… as we’ve said, history. But that goes both ways. Were RUN CMD to break through to a conference final in his first shot at the NHL Playoffs… well, that’s announcing your presence with authority. The Oilers almost certainly are going to enter next year as Western favorites no matter what happens here, but this would give it another coat of polish. Because you’re not really supposed to do that at first time of asking. Ovechkin went home after his first taste of the playoffs. So did Crosby. Maybe that’s why Toews gets all the glow, because the ’09 Hawks went that far in their first attempt.

On the other bench… what happens when a curse spreads over two coaches? What switch would Bob Murray have left to pull? His own would be the only one. You can be sure they’d give up on John Gibson, as this will be the second Game 7 he would biff and that was enough to jettison Frederik Andersen to Toronto. Even if the Ducks can bring back the exact same team next year, and they can, are they going to bother if they melt at home again?

The fate of two teams’ eras riding on tonight. The emergence another. The confirmation of the remaining one. This is what Game 7s should be, a definitive statement. Because everything else has been exhausted. There should be trepidation, if not outright terror. The woods should be dark and deep, and two teams are not only coming out of them tonight, they could very well be swallowed up by them for eternity.

Because that makes excellent viewing for those of us on the outside.