Dan's Take hockey guru Dan Innamorato is back with gem on why we should all be tuning in to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals Friday night. I couldn't agree more. Who knows, maybe we'll always remember where we were when we watched Penguins/Red Wings in 2009.
There’s a great quote by Entourage’s Ari Gold that sums up my feelings for any sports fan who can’t get excited for Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff game. “Get out. Seriously, get the fuck out. Don’t even grab a bagel.”
Alright, I’ll give you one chance to redeem yourself…watch this clip of Stephane Matteau’s double OT winner in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. This 22-second video captures everything that is potentially great about Game 7 playoff hockey. A third line grinder hustling past a dead-tired defenseman to win the puck, a bank shot wraparound against a rookie goaltender who would eventually go on to become the best in the history of the game, a blink of the eye ending to a hard fought series, the jubilation of victory, the anguish of defeat, the home crowd going crazy, and, of course, the single greatest call ever by a sports announcer (“Matteau! Matteau! Matteau! Stephane Matteau! And the Rangers, have one more hill to climb, baby!”). If that clip didn’t get you excited, well, you can heed Ari Gold’s advice. There is no hope for you as a sports fan.
Can I guarantee that Friday night’s Game 7 matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins will be an instant classic? Of course not. Some Game 7s are anticlimactic, like the one between the Penguins and Washington Capitals this year, where an amazing series was capped off by a blowout when Washington’s defense and goaltending completely imploded. On the other hand, sometimes single-elimination playoff hockey gives you incredible, dramatic endings. Witness this year’s second round Game 7 between the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes (formerly known as the Hartford Whalers…may they rest in peace). Or, even better, Boston University’s miracle comeback at the Frozen Four to win the 2009 NCAA Championship.
I have high hopes for this upcoming Game 7, but even if it doesn’t turn out to be a classic, there are still plenty of reasons to be watching. Listed in no particular order:
- You can find it on TV! On a real channel! The game is being played at 7 on Friday night and is being broadcast on NBC. So you don’t have to search through your channels to find the Versus network, and endure endless commercials about bull riding and deer hunting. Instead, you can see promos for The Biggest Loser and America’s Got Talent…ok, bad argument, I guess I’d prefer the deer hunting.
- Sidney Crosby’s hilarious inability to get past the ‘peach fuzz’ stage of growing a playoff beard.
- Offensive firepower: after Alex Ovechkin, the four best forwards in the game are arguably Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg. Crosby and Malkin play for Pittsburgh and Datsyuk and Zetterberg play for Detroit. Yikes.
- Two of the greatest traditions in sports: the Stanley Cup celebration by the winning team, and the merciless booing of Commissioner Gary Bettman when he comes on the ice to present the trophy. Everyone HATES Gary Bettman. His whole family probably boos him when he shows up for Thanksgiving dinner. He completely ruined the NHL during his tenure as commissioner. Never before has an executive run a business with such incompetence. Even the CEOs of General Motors, Chrysler, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers make fun of this guy.
The final reason to watch this game is the most important one. Quite frankly, the NHL needs you to watch it. Despite a recent renaissance for the league during these playoffs, television ratings have still been lackluster. This is what happens when your commissioner signs a television deal with an obscure network known mainly for its fly fishing coverage, but I digress. The NHL is so desperate for your ratings that they even banned the arenas in Detroit and Pittsburgh from showing the game on their video screens so that hockey fans would have to watch from their own homes. Seriously, they’re that desperate.
The good news is that the NHL has made vast improvements since the lockout, and a well-played, well-received Stanley Cup Game 7 could greatly benefit a league that still has a chance to regain its status as a major sport. So tune into the game, Dan’s Take readers. If you have a Nielsen box in your TV, the least you can do is flip to NBC and mute the game while you read a book, or leave your TV on when you go out for the night. Better yet, just watch the game. It’s going to be amazing. I guarantee it.