As the reality of their commanding lead sunk in and the journalists began probing, the clichés began pouring out of the players’ mouths.
“We haven’t won anything yet.”
"We’re taking it one game at a time.”
“It’s not over till it’s over.”
C-L-I-C-H-E. The word is derived from French and pronounced klie-shay. The dictionary defines it as a trite expression that has lost its impact through over-use. But think about it: Clichés get used so much because they embody some basic truths.
As well as the Bruins are playing, shutting down what was considered an unstoppable offensive machine, how many of us can forget the horrific collapse against the Flyers just a few years ago? How many of us will sit in fear and dread when—actually, if—Pittsburgh wins the next one and gets to play game 5 at home?
What gives us the audacity to think that the Bruins can actually take Game 4 so they can stop spouting clichés about the Penguins and begin applying them to the Western Conference winner?
To stay with phrases that our hockey buddies in Montreal would understand, the Bruins have “je ne sais quoi.” They have that indefinable elusive quality that makes them winners.
They certainly don’t have the offensive superstars like the other guys. We love the playoff version of David Krejci, but who in Beantown wouldn’t swoon to have the full-time services of Sid the Kid Crosby or even Evgeni Malkin?
What they have are players who do the little things (do I detect another cliché?), who sacrifice their bodies and their stats for the win. Unlike Evgeni, forwards like Patrice Bergeron can be trusted to play defense—until that key moment when they go to the goal in double overtime.
They have an oldie-but-almost-still-goodie named Jaromir Jagr who, of all things, started the winning play with a gritty defensive effort.
They have the prototypical little guys who get under your skin like Brad Marchand; they have reliable guys who can do a little bit of everything like Daniel Paille and—we will sorely miss you the rest of this season—Gregory Campbell.
And, yes, they do have a great goalie. Tim Who, did you say?
My guess is that Tuukka Rask will accompany the team to meet Barack Obama at the White House and also get to visit Sauli Niinisto, President of his native Finland, at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
So let’s take another game from the Penguins and get it over with. Let’s get installed as the underdogs for the Finals. And then let’s take four more and get the floats ready and the parade route cleared.
Or am I getting ahead of myself? To paraphrase my favorite cliché, I know that it’s not over till the overweight female chants.