Game 7's in sports are like nothing else. For nine innings, four quarters, or three periods, every integral move by every single person on the roster is digested, evaluated, and stored in the memory bank in case a hero/scapegoat is needed when the final buzzer sounds.
In my eyes, every Game 7 in the four major sports should be broadcast on national television, so that all sports fans have a chance to witness two teams who are guaranteed to be, as the saying goes, "giving it their all."
Think about it. In anywhere from a week to two weeks time, six games have been played between the same two teams on the same two venues. Six games could not determine who was the best between the two. When one team was down three games to two, they did what had to be done to ensure that everything they had done the past ten months did not go to waste in one game.
To us, that's cliché. To these guys, that's ten months of suicides, weight training, full contact practices, coaches chewing them out, digesting plays, and missing your family (and your own bed)...it's ten months of your life wasted. In the blink of an eye. Or better yet, the buzzing of a horn.
Which is why it pains me to say that the best Game 7 of the entire 2009 professional playoffs—will be viewed by only a select audience of the sports world.
When Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby square off tomorrow in Washington for Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals, we will have the two best NHL hockey players of this generation, who play with more fire and competitiveness than the majority of the league, scratching and clawing for every inch they can get in what is the definition of a "must-win game."
The rivalry between the two playmakers heated up in Washington about three months ago during a Capitals 5-2 win. The trash talking has carried through into the playoffs and has clearly brought out the best in both players.
In game two of the series, Washington won 4-3. Seven goals were scored in the game.
Crosby had 3. Ovechkin had 3.
Clearly, the two superstars have not disappointed. In 13 playoff games, Ovechkin has recorded 20 points, while Sid the Kid has 17 points in 12 games. In the six games between the two in the playoffs up to this point, they have netted a combined 13 goals. These two are like Tiger and Phil, Kobe and LeBron, or even Federer and Nadal. Alone, they are already must-see-TV.
Together? You better have TiVo.
More importantly, you better have a good cable provider. The game will be seen on the all-so-well-known Versus Network. To me, that's Channel 408 (or 719 for the HD feed). It's not NBC, CBS, or even ESPN...2.
Versus, with its ever so envied monopoly over the NHL and its games (that last comment was doused with sarcasm), has focused on quality broadcasters and commentators for such events.
Doc Emerick, who should be doing Game 7, is the Michael Buffer of NHL play-by-play. The guy's voice is so enigmatic, and more importantly, he knows the game of hockey like Bill Cosby knows pudding. For those who love to hear a good game of hockey called—and played—Versus is the place for you.
So I urge you, please, if you have it within your means to watch Game 7 tomorrow night—that means being a sports fan, having nothing to do after 7 p.m., and having access to the Versus Network—please do yourself a favor and turn it on.
This matchup should not be undersold simply because it's hockey and no one watches it in the Unites States. Ovechkin and Crosby are just as dominant as any other two athletes in pro sports (I'll argue Ovechkin is the most dominant athlete in sports, but that's for another day).
And don't forget about the other 48 guys playing, too. These two teams bring a lot of talent to an NHL rink and, as you may have guessed, are two of the most exciting teams to watch in all of hockey.
So kick back and forget about Brett Favre storylines every time you turn on ESPN, the Cavs and LeBron beating every one by 20, or Albert Pujols hitting home runs every twenty minutes.
Because this is not your everyday hockey game.