Thursday, June 05, 2008

Game Over

It always amazes me how high hockey can lift you up. And then how far it can drop you down.

A few random thoughts of the last 72 hours...

Game 5
If you were under a rock Monday night and missed:

  • the Pens blowing a two goal lead
  • the Wings coming back to make it 3-2
  • Max Talbot's goal to tie it with thirty seconds left
  • 3 grueling periods of OT
  • which all ended with Petr Sykora scoring a goal he called earlier in the evening
You missed quite a show.

Pens had nothing to lose that game and everything in the world to gain. It was the most emotional sports event in recent memory. I was so tired and thought about passing out. But a good friend reminded me that "this is history in the making Ellie - suck it up!" Unreal.

Apparently had a 50% increase in video streaming and the highest amount of traffic on the website ever after that game. Amazing what the Internet can do for the game.

Game 6
Last night's game was emotional on a totally different level. My main emotion of the evening was anger. "What are we doing?!?" I kept yelling. "We're so much better than this!!"

Pens couldn't get much going. While the game wasn't as pathetic as some of the others in this series, time moved faster than we wanted. Not nearly enough shots on goal from the Pens. Detroit's defense was amazing. "The Butt Goal", complements of Fleury, certainly helped. Malkin finally got his grove back but it wasn't enough. The Wings won it after an amazing last ditch effort by Hossa and Crosby.

Access Denied. Again.

The Cup
There's something about the Cup that is utterly magical. I had a frown on my face for most of the game. But when Nick Lidstrom lifted the cup above his head, I got chills down my spine and a smile on my face.

I couldn't help it. The Cup is so many things - the grind of the regular season. The battle we call the playoffs. Losing your captain mid season to injury. Learning to click with new line mates. Stepping up to the plate when your team needs a leader. The hits. The bruises. The goals. The wins. It's all in there. The stories of champions in a 35 pound metal trophy..

Call it intuition or the hockey gods whispering in my ear, but I swear I heard the Cup say "don't worry - I'll be back here soon!"

The Future
Looking back on the Penguins season, I am still amazed that we made it this far. Loosing a star goalie and having our backup perform exceptionally well was enough of a roller coaster ride. But then we lost our captain - yet found reprieve in our equally good Malkin.

Players who have been around for a few years developed even further. Two new rookies added a much needed spark. Third and fourth line characters brought lots of energy and momentum. An emotional trade at the deadline added the extra skills we needed.

Lines came together and suddenly everyone was mentally on the same page. It was only two years ago Coach Therrien was commenting on how "soft" his defense was. Now he's commenting on how far a group of young kids can go.

2005-2006 Season

2007-2008 Season

So who will stick around for the next attempt? It's hard to say. Many key players have contracts that are up this summer. Malkin will need to be signed. Hossa, Malone and Orpik all played important roles this year, but can we afford them all next year? It'll be an interesting summer.

A big congrats the Red Wings and their fans - thanks for giving us a great challenge!

We'll be back...

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