Game fives have this tendency of being epic. Not all of them are, but enough of them have been to make me wary of asking for anything spectacular. That said, I can't ask for this game NOT to go into overtime, because I have the feeling that if I do, it will end in regulation, as a regulation loss for the Penguins.
So I'm not asking for anything specifically tonight. Well... as much as I can restrain myself from asking for anything... I want a good game. Pittsburgh needs a good game. A strong game. A balls-out, no-holds-barred, give-'er-all-you-got game. Our defence needs to be tight. Our forwards need to be incredible. Flower needs to be in his zone.
Oddly enough, more than needing to win, we need to play well. Sure, a win would be preferable, but playing like crap is not an option; the Penguins need to play WELL tonight, because it is easier to have confidence in a strong loss than in a lucky (flukey) win. A win is a win is a win, don't get me wrong, but a GOOD win is even better. I don't want any soft goals. I want lots of chances and clean shots and execution. I want us to play the best hockey we've ever played. I want us to prove why we're going to take this. I want Detroit to DREAD coming back to Mellon Arena on Tuesday night. I want them to begin to lose their cool. And the second they do, because they are going to lose their cool, we'll know we've got it.
It's only a matter of time...
And, a now-almost-requisite note to Kris and Max:
Mes chers favoris!
Honestly, I don't even know what to say anymore... you two are the bomb! Just keep playing the way you've been playing and you've got this. But you already know that. I know you two won't let this end in anything but victory. Well, you two, and Sid and Geno and Scuderi and pretty much anyone who hits the ice for Games 5, 6 and, potentially, 7. You guys have come too far to do anything but win this.
Game 3 was the first evidence that Detroit just doesn't have what it takes to beat you guys. Game 4 was like a airtight legal argument to support the evidence given in Game 3. Detroit has a system. You have said "Eff your system, how about we play ours?" and it's working. Osgood's tantrum the other night was probably the single most heartening thing I could have asked for. I know this is longer than my usual notes, but it's harder to summarize things when I'm not just asking you to score (although, you know, if one of you wants to score the game-winner tonight, I'm all for that too). You've proven you're as good as Detroit. Now it's time to show everyone that you're not just 'as good', you're better.
Take a deep breath. Let your minds go quiet. You hear that? That thrumming in your chests? Hear how all the hearts in your dressing room are beating in 22-part harmony like a symphony of win? That's because you are all instruments, playing specific parts in an incredible composition, orchestrated by master craftsmen. And the master craftsmen are you. All of you. All of you together.
Screw playing like a well-oiled machine; go out and and play like you're all necessary parts of a single, greater, organic whole. A single, greater being with a single, greater purpose than scoring individual goals. A whole that needs all of you playing at your peak in order to succeed. The rest of your lives may be insignificant sonatas and arias; make tonight that brief moment in the symphony that no one EVER forgets. Make tonight the beginning of the glorious finale. Make tonight the Ode to Joy.
I'm making you those penguin cookies I promised. Don't let me down boys. More importantly, don't let yourselves down. You've been waiting your whole lives for this. Go out and play your little hearts out.