This is the fifth day in our lives that we've woken up (not next to each other) knowing the Wings could win the Stanley Cup by night's end. They've yet to disappoint, winning the previous four times. (--EDIT-- insane error that nobody caught: Game 5 of last year's finals. Wow. End edit--)
What was so shocking about Game 6 of the Anaheim series was, simply, that the Wings didn't win. That's just what they do in that situation. They were 13-0 in Game 6's when up 3 games to 2. 11 of those 13 were road games. You could probably throw in a cliche about smelling blood at this point, and it would be accurate. They just never seem to fail.
But throw Game 6's aside for a moment, and think back to what the four Cup-clinching wins looked like.
In '97 there was no force on this planet that was going to prevent the Wings from winning that game. Ron Hextall and Garth Snow's shoulder pads could've been occupying the crease at the same time, and McCarty still scores that goal. If one of the alien spacecrafts from Independence Day was about to strike down upon Joe Louis Arena, Doug Brown would've sacrificed his life to blow it up. Nothing was keeping them from the Cup -- certainly not the Legion of Doom line.
You knew that they would win that game like you know Subway is always going to be out of the type of bread you want (would it kill them to have the monterey cheddar available just one fucking time?). It isn't sad or pathetic at all to say that, for die-hard Wing fans, this was one of the happiest days of your life.
Game 4 of the 1998 Stanley Cup was played with an equal amount of certainty. And if you weren't convinced of that through the first two periods, you were when Vladdy stood up in the crowd and the bench gave him a standing ovation in the 3rd. Words can't really describe that moment, and needless to say, the Wings weren't losing that game. There was a better chance that Yzerman would turn on the Wings by chopping Ozzie over the head with an axe.
The 2002 Carolina Hurricanes were like the worst team to ever make the Finals. On paper, at least. On the ice they were a tough team to dominate, let alone win against because of their disgusting, defensive system. It looked ugly, but it worked about as well as it could, and the Canes got everything they could out of their players that year. Game 1 was a shot to the nuts -- an OT loss that we don't care to remember; Game 2 was incredibly tense, and wasn't decided until a late one-timer by Nick Lidstrom; Game 3 was a Triple Overtime barn-burner, and one of the greatest Red Wings games in their history (as well as the night that the "no pants" superstition was born); Game 4 was the Wings' best game of the series and a 3-0 win.
Game 5 was a one-goal game late in the 3rd when Shanny hit every Wing fan's favorite empty netter to seal the Cup. He tackled Yzerman in celebration and inspired people to do the same in their living rooms. Now, this was five games -- but in no way was it easy. In fact we should thank God everyday that that series isn't still going on.
Last year was certainly a test. Games 1 and 2 feel like they were a part of an entirely different series. And then Games 3 through 6 took about 10 years off our respective lives.
That picture signifies how close the latter half of this series was. The confidence level going into Game 6 was ..... confusing. Nobody had a functioning brain after Game 5 but the Wings put to bed what could've been a sports travesty by finishing that series in Pittsburgh.
The Pens are going to give everything they have, and that much should be obvious. As tough as it was to put them away last year it's going to be even worse this time around. Losing two Stanley Cups on their home ice is a sickening feeling that they don't want to experience.
Because of this, it's imperative that the Wings get a good start tonight. It has to happen. Any let up at all and their will be a seventh game Friday night.
No links or quotes today. No injuries to report. Just hang on to your ass and hope for a win.