The last 48 hours have been pretty rough. I'm not ashamed to admit that. But it's nothing compared to what tomorrow's going to be like. Got a barf bag? Better take it to work with you. Co-workers, customers, clients beware. This is not the day to mess with a Wings fan.
Road rage? Check. Irrational outbursts? Check. Random fits of sobbing? Check. Inability to control basic bodily functions? Check. Nothing is out of line tomorrow. People who don't understand may judge you. It doesn't matter. One way or another, barring a cruel, cruel torment by the Hockey Gods, it will all be over in less than 24 hours.
At this point, I really have nothing left to say. And that's the way it should be. It doesn't make a bit of difference what I want or what I do. This game's going to be decided out on the ice based on which team wants it more. It's already been demonstrated that both teams are capable of winning when they show up and play their game. All we can do is hope that the Wings are the ones who bring it at 8pm. Not 8:30 or 8:45. They need to be firing on all cylinders right from the opening faceoff. There simply is no other option. There's no tomorrow. Nothing to save their energy for. It's do or die or ten million other sports cliches and it's in their hands now.
I know a lot of people hate the Wings. On some level, I even understand it. It's for the same reasons that everyone seems to hate the Yankees. But everyone outside of Pittsburgh should be rooting for the Wings to win. Why, you ask? Because if the Wings fail, every single hockey fan is going to have to endure at least 3 seasons of being inundated with commercials showing Sidney Crosby hoisting the Cup. Remember how much you hated that stupid commercial with the Pens fan and the penalty box TV? It would be 1000 times worse. Every single time you sat down to watch a hockey game. There's no way you could escape it. It's been fairly well demonstrated that if the Wings win, you won't be forced to relive their victory five thousand times over the course of the next few years. It's something to think about, even if it makes me gag a little bit.
Over the last couple of days, I've been having periodic moments of terror in which I envision the Penguins winning. There are many reasons for this. Chief among them is the fact that weird things happen in Game 7s. The thought of the Stanley Cup being decided by a point shot that deflects off of three skates and someone's pants or one bad call or a turnover or a broken stick scares the living daylights out of me. It's part of what makes hockey such a compelling sport to watch, but it's no fun at all if you have a vested interest in one of the teams involved. And I haven't even mentioned Malkin yet. I don't care that he hasn't been putting up points the last couple of games. Every time the man touches the puck, I start to cry. There's also the Wings inexplicable failures on both sides of the special teams equation. I'd go more in depth on that aspect, but there's really nothing left to say, and I'm pretty sure you'd have to be as loony as Dominik Hasek to make sense of it anyway.
And then, occasionally, I have moments in which I envision a Wings victory and all of the glorious fun that would accompany it. I push those images out of my mind as quickly than Darren Helm chasing down a loose puck, lest I somehow offend the Hockey Gods with my presumptuousness. There are many reasons to feel confident, but let's face it, I've woken up with a bad feeling and sense of paranoia every single game day since April (Man, that seems like a long time ago.). The Joe's been good to the Wings during this postseason. Also, it helps that the game's not being played on Tuesday. (They've had 5 Tuesday night games that conflicted with my softball team's games, and they're 1-4, with the only victory coming on the day I didn't play because I was at the Joe.) Then there is Chris Osgood. And Henrik Zetterberg. And Nicklas Lidstrom. And Pavel Datsyuk. So there's reason to believe. I just refuse to allow myself to get my hopes up, because that inevitably leads to crushing despair.
Other random thoughts:
-I refuse to read the Freep tomorrow on account of being terrified of what Drew Sharp might have to say.
-Now that most people think the Pens have the edge, maybe the Wings will play well. They seem to do their best when everyone counts them out. (See Games 1, 2, and 5.)
-Mike Babcock continues to be a press conference all-star.
-There are a couple of good interviews here. Although the part in the Babcock one where the interviewer points out that the Wings have lost 3 out of the last 4 games almost made me vomit. So be prepared for that.
-It will be a miracle if I survive tomorrow.
And finally, since it seemed to work before Game 5, a cut and paste from my pre-game post:
Hockey Gods, if you're listening, just about anything is up for grabs. My car, my Scotty Bowman bobblehead, my soul, my rally rag/security blanket from last year. My Steve Yzerman jersey stays with me, but you're free to claim dibs on my firstborn child, if you're interested.
Heck, now that it's Game 7, I'll throw in the jersey plus Nick Lidstrom's used beer bottle. That's everything I have to give. It's actually kind of sad to consider the fact that most of my prized possessions are related to the Wings. I feel like this would be less weird if I were male, but it is what it is, and I can't help who I am.
Nothing pre-game tomorrow, unless something major comes up. I'll see you on the flip side. One way or another, I'll probably be crying. Joy or despair? Only the Hockey Gods know for sure.