It's a great day for hockey. The statement made famous by Badger Bob Johnson seems to just about sum up the anticipation for Game Seven tonight perfectly.
It's amazing how sports have a way of involving the fan at a level that is borderline irrational. I often find myself more caught up and invested in how my team is doing than the players themselves seem to be. I spent the better part of the early 2000's hating Tom Brady, yet apparently him and Peyton Manning are buddy-buddy.
Ultimately, the winner of tonight will have earned nothing more than bragging rights over the other team in a rivalry that seems almost destined to continue for at least the next five years. The winner will still have to play the Conference Final and will still have to find a way to beat whomever the Western Conference throws at them in the Final. Ultimately, if the winner of this game doesn't go on to win the Cup, will they inevitable consider their season somehow less of a disappointment?
So the reality is that this game for all the hyperbole and hoopla it has generated is really just the biggest game of the season until the next biggest game of the season comes along. Yet, still I find myself believing that such a view, however pragmatic, leaves one to completely miss the point.
I believe that a game like Game Seven tonight is alter upon which legacy's are launched. I think back to the Boston Red Sox being down three games to one against the Yankees and rallying back to take the AL Championship.
Obviously they still had to go on and win the World Series, but the Legacy of many of those players was crafted in that series. Had they won the World Series that year and not played the Yankees it would have almost felt less significant. Had they just swept the Yankees aside in four games it would have been somehow less significant.
The journey that it took to win that World Series, and the storylines that unfolded as a result were almost as important as winning the championship itself.
Flash forward to tonight in Washington D.C. and you have to believe that if one of these two teams come out of this thing and then goes on to win the Cup, either Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin will have ultimately cemented their place in this league, before either of them have even turned 25 years old.
What is in store for us tonight that this great series hasn't already provide? Perhaps a triple overtime marathon? Not likely from a series that has given us just one scoreless period in six games. Perhaps another nail bitter, with constant lead changes and one goal deficits, complete with heroes, villains, and suspense?
Who knows what to expect, save for that the one team will win, and the other team will go home. As Badger Bob said so long ago...it's a great day for hockey, it's a great day to be a fan of hockey.