The 2008 edition of the Stanley Cup Finals has shaped into a classic matchup of which all sports fans can be proud. Game five between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings saw swings in momentum that had the fans in Joe Louis Arena on their feet and tasting hockey glory like no other.
With less than a minute left in regulation time, Pittsburgh center Maxime Talbot scored the game-tying goal with under 35 seconds remaining and thus saving the game, playoffs, and the season for a sport that has desperately needed this sort of dramatic excitement in its game.
The match evolved into a triple overtime thriller where the Penguins were outshot by a two to one ratio. The four and half hour classic ended with a Penguins power play goal by Petr Sykora that vaulted his team back into the series.
The series now goes back to Pittsburgh for another historical match between the youthful Penguins and the experienced and wise Red Wings.
The ratings for the first five games of this year's Stanley Cup finals have thus far been encouraging signs that the sport is indeed headed in the right direction. We have seen seemingly stinging injuries brushed aside, intense physical play, speed, finesse, and seemingly boundless amounts of emotion flying between these two teams who have made sacrifices to get to where they are today.
This series is only a microcosm of what the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs have embodied in its entirety. The successful return of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and the Pittsburgh Penguins to the advanced stages of the playoffs, the mastery shown by the experienced Red Wings, and the youth served by the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Alexander Ovechkin all collided with each other in this postseason.
My advice to all sports fans: continue to watch the Stanley Cup Finals for the same reasons you have shown support for the league during these last few months; for the same reason the Penguins finally triumphed in the Joe to save their season; for the same reason Pittsburgh and Detroit have been duking it out against each other as if the players on each team had no tomorrow; and for the same reason the Stanley Cup is seemingly weightless upon raising it up above a player's head and shoulders after shedding tears and blood to win it.
Glory and Guts.
Lord Stanley's Cup is for either of these teams to win, and ours to honor. Tonight is an opportunity to do just that by continuing to show our support for the sport.
Let's not waste it.