Yeah...this phrase gets tossed out a lot. I'm guilty of it. "This play is EVERYTHING!" "This game is EVERYTHING!" But this time...I really really REALLY mean it. It's safe to say that this game will be the biggest game these eyes have ever seen (if I can make it until tonight). I've been fortunate to live thru 6 Superbowl victories. I was in attendance as a little kid at the '79 World Series. I've seen two Cup winners, and been in attendance at a multitude of Penguin playoff games through the years. But tonight defines EVERYTHING.
Superbowls are fun, don't get me wrong. We're all die hard black-n-gold Koolaid drinking Stiller fans (or many of the EC faithful are). But the nature of this playoff run...the every-other-night, live-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, 8 week, playoff beard growing grind...is beyond compare. As a fan whose heart pumps with every shot on net...it's tiring, it's grueling, and hopefully after tonight...it will be rewarding. With the talent on this team, we're all hopeful there will be more opportunities. But you just never know. After the '91 and '92 Cup raisings, everyone took it for granted that the Pens would be there every year. Le Magnifique never even saw another Final.
The other special ingredient this particular team has is the close connection, and love we have for the players. Marc-Andre has had his lapses, no doubt. But how can you not pull for this kid with the never-ending smile? Geno and his broken English. His parents you want to hug. Max Talbot's "superstar" antics....who doesn't want to party with that dude? Scuds and Brooks, laying their faces on the line every time they go down to block a puck. Fedotenko's forever rosy cheeks. The Staal line. CRAIG FUCKIN ADAMS. And Sid...the jealous ire of opponents for not only his superior skill on the ice, but his professionalism and leadership that 29 other GM's and fan bases would drool to have wear their sweater. We love this team like no other.
Think back a couple years ago when we were close to losing the Penguin organization because of some back-handed greasy politicians (Fast Eddie Cheesesteak, stand up Sir). Add in the Game 7, winner-take-all dynamic. Throw in a great opponent in the Red Wings. Stir in the fact that #81 on Detroit played for this team in last year's final, only to later say, "Detroit gives me the best shot to win a Cup," makes this single game extra extra special. I couldn't dream of a better picture than seeing Sid shake Hossa's hand after this win.
As fans, we have been there every game...celebrating, dancing, mourning, yelling, eating, boozing, rehydrating. There are moments we'll all remember...
- Max giving the "Shsh" sign to the Neanderthal Flyer fans as he skated off the ice in Game 6 of Round 1, which preceded the Penguino comeback and demise of Philly for another year.
- Ovie taking his cheap run at Gonch, and the hatred that ensued (my section at the Igloo almost saw me lose a gasket that night).
- Game 7's most gratifying tit-peeling of the Capital.
- The Carolina sweep, with horn jerking, turncoat Cowher in attendance.
- Johan Franzen flopping all over the ice, holding his ear every time he's touched.
- Scuderi's big save in Game 6.
Someone recently asked me if I would trade in a Steeler Superbowl for this game...for this here Stanley Cup. Superbowl XLIII would be tough to trade in, personally. And the only reason is because I have a close friend who just picked up his Superbowl ring. But Superbowl XL, Cowher's shining moment and the one we "won for The Bus"....HELL YES. I'd take a huge dump on that Lombardi Trophy if it meant a Lord Stanley celebration tonight.
LET'S GO PENS.