Stanley Cup Finals Game Seven: Pens Climbing Uphill

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Stanley Cup Finals Game Seven: Pens Climbing Uphill
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

When the Pittsburgh Penguins got blasted out of the Joe Louis Arena in Game Five on June 7, it may have been exactly what the doctor ordered. 

Now the youthful Penguins, riding high after a tightly contested Game Six victory at home, can take two days off to ponder the magnitude of the Herculean task that lies before them.

When it comes to Stanley Cup Final Game Seven's, the numbers tell a grim story for the road team.  The home team has hoisted the cup after the last six Game Seven's in Stanley Cup Final's history, and they've also won 12 out of the 14 all-time Game Seven's in the history of the Stanley Cup. 

Additionally, only one team has ever come back from losing the first two games on the road to win the Stanley Cup.  That team was Montreal, who stormed back to knock Chicago off in 1971.

But that was 38 years ago.  In other words, it's been a while. 

Can the high flying Penguins dig deep enough into their collective heart to be the exception rather than the norm? 

It is going to be a tall task to say the least, but Pittsburgh does have one thing going for them, in spite of all the other Game Seven facts that render them the heavy underdog:  the Penguins are undefeated in their history in Game Seven's on the road, at 4-0. 

Even more inspiring for the Penguin faithful is the fact that they ran the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs on May 14 with a one-sided 6-2 victory in Washington that many didn't see coming either. 

But don't think for a second that this is Pittsburgh's game to win. 

The Red Wings are 11-1 at home this year, they have more experience, they are healthier than they were at the onset of the series and they have the edge in goaltending.

The great intangible in monumental games such as these, has to be Chris Osgood.

Osgood, a veteran of so many successful cup runs, and holder of a 2.00 GAA and a .927 save percentage in the playoffs, played one of his most memorable games ever in a Game Seven for the Red Wings (a 1-0 double overtime victory over St. Louis known for the Yzerman laser from the blue line). 

There was talk last night that if the Wings had been able to come back and win Game Six, that Osgood's effort in the first two periods of the game had all but sealed his chances to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs. 

But that was before a soft goal, perhaps the softest goal allowed by Osgood in the playoffs, was scored by Tyler Kennedy.  It gave the Pens the two goal lead that they would eventually hang onto with dear life. 

And hang on they did. 

They scratched and they clawed and were praying on the bench as Dan Cleary walked in against Marc-Andre Fleury on a breakaway with 90 seconds remaining in regulation. 

And it still wasn't done. 

It took Rob Scuderi's brief stint as a butterfly goalie to get the job done in the waning moments of Game Six. 

It'll take even more to get the Penguins over the hump in Game Seven. The quicker they realize this, and the more deeply they understand it, the better their chances will be.

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