Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yeah, that's right. For just the 16th time ever -- although, bizarrely, the sixth time in the last decade -- there's something pretty damn awesome on TV tonight, and it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, a Game 7 is special in any sport, there is no doubt about this, but something about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final speaks of a heightened excitement. It may not have the gravitas of Game 7 of the World Series, but it does contain the extreme tension where one mistake can mean your season as well as the potential for the same easy up-and-down, back-and-forth action we might see in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Also, they do it on fucking quarter-inch wide ice skates.

So yeah, this is going to be a pretty sweet treat, and despite the frequency of Cup Final Game 7s of late, this actually a pretty rare occurrence. From 1966 to 1986, the Stanley Cup Final went seven games a grand total of one time. And as I've mentioned before, this series has had just about everything you could ask for as far as blowouts, tight games, overtimes, scuffles, wars of words and intrigue is concerned. And if the Canucks wind up with their first championship in franchise history tonight, not only will it end an angsty 40-year drought, but it would be the flukiest championship in any of the three major sports that play a final series, well, ever.

Of course to call it a fluke would be an injustice to a stellar season for Vancouver in which the Canucks were head and shoulders above the rest of the League. But winning a Cup despite being outscored by a double-digit margin to this point would be something that is, well, utterly bizarre. Even more bizarre than Mike Rupp's three-point night in Game 7 of the 2003 Final between New Jersey and Anaheim.

Not that I'm complaining. Historical curiosities make for an interesting bit of entertainment, regardless of what you're watching, but when it's something like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final -- at least for me -- it only gets more interesting. Besides, as anyone who has watched this season knows, the Canucks were hardly a fluke in getting this far.

There is the bigger question, however, of "who is going to win this game". And for that big question, I have a highly insufficient answer for you.

I have no idea.

I mean, I have some idea. I like the Canucks. After all, I simply think they're the better team and goaltender Roberto Luongo has been stellar at home in this series with two shutouts. Of course, he's also been utterly terrible at points, but beyond those journeys to the Hub, he has been stellar between the pipes, and back on his home ice, I suspect he will be again. Of course, the Canucks are making me somewhat anxious in that they won't just shut up and play the game. Normally this kind of bravado doesn't shake me, but considering the last time the Canucks talked, Daniel Sedin may want to think twice before becoming the Swedish Mark Messier.

But hey, what can you do. I still think Vancouver will hold Boston off in a tight one despite likely Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas, but, really, I don't know anything. What I can tell you is that should Boston win, all of Canada will actually know that they didn't, in fact, win the Stanley Cup, which is more than you can say for some cities. In addition, the end of Game 7 will have that great hockey tradition of the organized handshake line, which, aside from being a sign of sportsmanship (though I think sportsmanship is kind of a red herring), will also be a sign that most fans watching won't have quite the same schadenfreude that we all did -- myself included -- when the Heat tumbled to Dallas in the NBA Finals on Sunday.

Sure we were all happy, but maybe, just maybe, the actions of a few politicians and minor league baseball teams were a wee bit over the top. Then again, at least this Minor League baseball team isn't completely copying the stadium layout of another one.

Even if we, the fans, decide to be that cruel to whomever loses tonight, I think the Bruins or Canucks will be tough enough to handle it. Maybe not as tough as Goldeneye villain Alec Trevalyan, but tough enough to handle some jeers with solid aplomb. I'm just excited to see someone lose -- or win for that matter -- because there are few things in sports I enjoy more than the overwrought pageantry of awarding the Stanley Cup, because unlike the pageantry of most sports, the presentation of hockey's holy grail is done just right. Hopefully, tonight's Game 7 will be too. This series deserves nothing less.

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