Red Wings-Penguins: A Game Seven For the Ages
This is the NHL. This is Game Seven. But this is not just any Game Seven, this is a Game Seven that many fans have never seen and may not see for years to come.
Go back another 15 years for the previous matchup where Scotty Bowman made his Stanley Cup coaching debut with the Blues, where he was swept two years in a row by Montreal—a team he would eventually take himself to the Stanley cup four years in a row.
But this is more than that.
If Detroit wins, we'll have seen the home team win all seven games of the series. That has happened three times since 1927: 1955, where Detroit won over Montreal, 1965, where Montreal won over Detroit, and 2003 where New Jersey beat Anaheim. No previous series, including those that were five games from 1927-1938, had the home team winning all games of the series.
If Pittsburgh pulls off the upset, we'll see a road team winning a Game Seven. That has happened three times as well: 1928 where the Rangers beat the Maroons (That was a Game Five of a five-game series), 1945 where Toronto beat Detroit, and 1971 where Montreal beat Chicago. That feat has not happened since, a 38-year drought.
This series has been hard fought. Both teams have had chances to win each game (with the exception of Game Five), with the home team pulling off the victory. We've had two sets of twins (Detroit 3-1 in Games One and Two, Pittsburgh 4-2 in Games Three and Four), one blowout (Detroit 5-0) and one nail-biter (Pittsburgh 2-1). We haven't seen a lot of penalties, the refs are letting the players play. Sure there's missed calls and bad calls, but that's part of sports.
The 1980s were a golden age for the NBA. Not because of Jordan, but because of the rivalries that rose from that age. Three times we saw back-to-back matchups, all three were splits. The Lakers and Sixers fought in '82 and '83 (Lakers in '82, Sixers in '83), the Lakers and Celtics in '84 and '85 (Celtics in '84 and Lakers in '85), and the Lakers and Pistons in '88 and '89 (Lakers in '88, Pistons in '89).
None of those rematches went to seven games, though. Not since '69 did an NBA rematch go to seven games (wow, two rematches in the Finals in 1969 for the NBA and the NHL). These teams have shown us signs that we could see them again next year.
Could Pittsburgh and Detroit be Celtics-Lakers of the NHL's post-lockout era? Three times in four years is amazing, but if any teams could do it, it would be these.
I have enjoyed the NHL finals more this year than any other year. Being a Red Wings fan, I'm pulling for them on Friday. However, whether I'm screaming for joy as Lidstrom raises his fifth cup (and maybe his last) or crying in heartbreak as Crosby raises his first (and definitely not last), I will know that I have just seen history. I just hope you feel the same way.
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