There isn't really much to say today. Everything meaningful's been covered by the players and other bloggers. I really have very little of consequence to add.
If you read nothing else today, read this. The Chief sums it up better than I ever could. And if the part about Dominik Hasek doesn't make you laugh, then you either have no sense of humor or you're a good-for-nothing bandwagon fan. Either way, please leave.
It sounds as though everyone on the Wings is good to go tonight. As important as it was to get Datsyuk back for Game 5, it means so much more heading into a road game. Even though he and Z are playing on the same line, his presence has a trickle down effect that makes every line combo better top to bottom. This is especially important with the Pens getting the last change. On a side note, I don't think I've ever heard so much about the importance of getting the last line change as I have in this series. Ditto on the JLA boards. Can we please find something else to talk about? Or just sit in pleasant silence and let the players do the talking?
The key to the game, other than the standard platitude about getting off to a good start is going to be special teams, special teams, special teams. Why? All you need to do is look at Games 4 and 5. If you can't figure it out, please join those who didn't laugh at the Chief's bit on Hasek and leave. One of the big moments in Game 5, although it flew under the radar what with the Wings' offensive show and Pittsburgh's penalty "troubles," was that first PK when Kronwall (once again) got whistled for an early penalty (seriously, he's turning into this year's Jiri Hudler). Naturally, I was terrified, sure that it spelled doom for my boys, but they put together a wonderful kill and kept the Pens off the board. Not long after that, Cleary put the Wings ahead for good. Those are the little things that win championships. The things that have been sadly missing for much of the season this year. If we're lucky, the boys will show up for Game 6 with the determination and drive that they need to win.
This is major gut-check time for Marian Hossa. He needs to come out and play like a man possessed. I can guarantee you that he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life second-guessing his decision to come to Detroit. Two assists in Game 5 were nice, but I want more. I want the boos to rain down on him as he holds his hands up in celebration. I want his name called over their PA system multiple times, again to a chorus of boos. But most of all, I want him holding a shiny silver trophy over his head at the end of the night as a deafening round of boos rain down again. And if he plays like he did in last year's finals, his chances are going to be a hole lot better.
My anxiety level is increasing exponentially as game time gets closer and closer. I'm heading down to Hockeytown to watch the game tonight, and all day I've been replaying memories of filing out of the City Theater in the middle of the night after Game 5 last year. It's silly, because I've been there a handful of times since, but it was a traumatic incident in my life and it's going to stay with me for a while.
Speaking of Game 5 last year, rumor has it that Petr Sykora might be suiting up for the Pens tonight. While we all still shudder at the mention of Maxime Talbot's name or the number 34.7, it's often overlooked that Sykora was the one who scored the OT goal. And not only that, but he called his shot to Pierre McGuire. This still makes me nauseous. I'm not saying that he's in for a repeat performance, but dragging myself through those memories is not something I need to be doing at this particular moment.
The bottom line is that if the Wings want it, it's theirs to take. If they show up and play their game to the best of their ability, there's not a team in the world who can stop them. On the other hand, if they play like they did in Games 3 and 4 (and, really, stretches of 1 and 2), then it's going to be ugly.
PS. Dear Hockey Gods,
I've already promised you my first-born child, so now I'm offering up the second-born. Screw it, take 'em all. I just want Stanley.