Still the best words in sports
Despite the sheer volume of them in this year’s NHL playoffs, there are still no two words better than these: Game Seven.
Yes, thanks to a 5-1 victory Sunday by the visiting Boston Bruins, the Stanley Cup Finals are going to a Game Seven, in Boston. After two straight wins by the St. Louis Blues to even the series at 2-2 and then take the lead, 3-2, before heading home for Sunday’s contest, the Blues could not continue to feed off their emotions at home, and what seemed like an even contest at 1-0 going into the final frame turned into nothing less than an unmitigated disaster.
Of course, this had to happen at home, where the Blues have been far less mighty than they have been on the road in this far from normal playoff year.
It really has been an amazingly strange ride to this point. However, I cannot say I am surprised. How can one be after the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning bow out of the tournament long before their fans even got to their seats with the popcorn they had just waited in line for?
Say what you will about the way these playoffs have gone, they certainly not lacked drama, excitement, mistakes, goals, shutouts, unbelievable passes, controversy or anything else you can think of. From questionable readings of the rulebook to the San Jose Sharks’ crazy four-goal major power play, fans of hockey have seen a sprinkle of everything this year.
Favorites won, favorites lost, some in absolutely stunning fashion (here’s looking at you Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh). The reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals won the first two games of their series against a “Bunch of Jerks,” only to lose four of the next five games, including a Game Seven where they held two different two-goal leads.
The team that swept the Penguins, the New York Islanders, were themselves swept by the “Bunch of Jerks,” only to have those same jerks get swept by the Bruins.
Follow all of that?
On the other side of the ledger, the Blues’ improbable run began in early January, when they were under .500 and sitting in last place in the entire league. They pushed their way to the playoffs, only to seemingly peter out just before the end of the season, keeping themselves from stealing away the Central Division title from the Nashville Predators. The Predators promptly surrendered to the Dallas Stars in the first round. Meanwhile, the Blues found a way to beat the vaunted Winnipeg Jets. The Blues then needed seven games and double overtime in Game Seven to defeat the Stars and get the chance to face the Sharks.
The Sharks were down 3-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights and screamed back to take the series in double overtime in Game Seven after that four-goal major power play in the third period. The Sharks then faced the upstart Colorado Avalanche, who bulled over the Calgary Flames in the opening round.
The Flames were beaten so badly, they are looking at possibly revamping their entire blue line after winning the Pacific Division.
The Blues needed just six games to dispatch the Sharks, three of those game coming after the controversial “hand pass” goal in overtim of Game Three.
No matter how they got there, this year’s playoffs have been some of the most compelling playoff hockey we have seen in years. It does not surprise me that we are seeing a Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Finals, and to be quite honest, I would not have it any other way.