Thursday, 4 June 2009

Do or Die

I will be missing Game 4. Hopefully the Pens will pull what they pulled last time I was unable to watch (actually, the only time so far these playoffs I missed a game), and win the game. Last time I was praying for Geno to get out of his scoreless slump, and for Kris Letang to score (I didn't even know if he would be playing).

This time, I have no clue what to pray for, so I'll pray for what I always pray for: I just want the Pens to win. I'll be popping up to the pub periodically to check the score. It'll be on TV up there. Not unlike being updated by the random guys in O'Hare.

I hate that I'm missing the game, not just because I hate missing Pens playoffs games (because that's kind of a given), but because this game is Do or Die. It's not an elimination game, not technically, but it might as well be. Tonight, the Pens can either do what they did last year, lose, and psychologically seal their fate, or they can do things differently, win, and make this series a real series, instead of a slightly altered version of last year. Every single sports writer has been treating this series like it's a bit of a joke, an addendum to David's unsuccessful attempt to beat Goliath... forgetting, of course, the end of that parable wherein the little guy overcomes great odds to win.

Why does everyone seem to characterize the Pens as the little guy, anyways? Is it the team's perceived (and admittedly, actual) youth in comparison to Detroit's experience? Or is it the fact that they lost last year? I think most people would claim to believe the former while denying how much the latter is influencing their conclusions. Problem is this: creativity. Detroit is a safe bet. The odds are in Detroit's favour, if only for the intangible, psychological upper hand they hold after having hoisted the Cup in Mellon arena last year.

Why is it so difficult to imagine the Penguins winning? Sure, the Pens got off to a lousy start last year, and were shut-out until Game 3. That was bad. By ANYONE'S standards. But then they came back in Game 3 and won on home ice, and fought hard for the rest of the series. The Pens lost Game 4. By one goal. Then they forced the Wings into TRIPLE OVERTIME in Game 5, and won. Everyone smelled a comeback. Pens fans wanted a comeback. We didn't get one, but the Pens didn't get blown out by the Wings in Game 6 last year. No, the Pens lost by one lousy goal. A different save and there would have been OT. One goal and we would have gone to Game 7.

We lost the first two games again this year. Not a good sign. But we scored. Good sign.

We won Game 3. Good sign. With two goals from Max Talbot and one each from Gonchar and Letang. Even better sign.

But this means that tonight is do or die. Tonight can break the pattern we seem to be stuck in. Tonight, the Pens can make this, to steal the old phrase, "a whole new series." Tonight they can win themselves the Cup.

They will have to win two more games. The series may go to seven games. But, if the Pens win tonight, I will be willing to bet anyone pretty much anything that the Pens will win the Stanley Cup this year.

I am willing to make this insane statement because a win tonight changes a pattern, it eliminates the repetitive nature of this series, it resets everyone's expectations. A win tonight is like how in Game 5 of the second round, the Pens broke the pattern of the first goal-score's team losing. A win tonight is a giant FU to superstition.

A win tonight, makes everything and I mean EVERYTHING possible.

So, here's what what needs to happen. Someone (I'm looking at you Brooksie) needs to deal with Zetterberg for like 30 seconds, so Sidney Crosby can score. Geno needs to just keep doing what he's been doing. Same with Staal and TK. They are SO over due for some sweet goals off the rebound. Letang needs to keep in whatever frame of mind he's been in for the past two weeks, maybe he can give Hal Gill some pointers?

The Pens need to play balls-out tonight, as if this is the elimination game. Because, in a sense, it is. If they lose this game, this series is not necessarily lost, but if they win, I feel like they will hit the ice for Game 5 in Joe Louis Arena and they will take that game like they took Game 5 last year. And nothing would make me happier than for the Pens to come back home for Game 6 up a game.

Tonight, the pattern changes.
Tonight, it's do or die.
Tonight, we win.

Dear Max and Kris,
Mes chers, I'm adressing this to you because you listen. So, please tell the rest of your team something for me... Boys? You can do this. We know it. You know it. Time for Detroit to know it too. Je suis vraiment desole que j'vais manquez le match, mais vous savez bien que j'vais penser d'accune autre chose ce soir.
l'amour fou,

No comments: