Game Seven: Where a Game Becomes a War

Steve PrudenteCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 11: David Steckel #39 (L) of the Washington Capitals and Matt Bradley #10 (R) celebrate Steckel's overtime winning goal at 6:22 of overtime againast the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinal  Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on May 11, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Capitals defetaed the Penguins 5-4. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I was a little disappointed tonight when Chicago defeated Vancouver 7-5 to advance to their first Western Conference Final since 1995.

Before any Blackhawks fans cry foul, let me assure you, I am still pleased to see the resurgence gaining momentum in Chicago.

I was disappointed because there would not be a game seven in what has been an unbelievable back-and-forth tooth-and-nail series, full of grit, determination, offense, defense, and everything in between.

Because we all know the only thing better than playoff hockey is a playoff hockey game seven.

So far this second season, there have been two game sevens, with the third slated for Wednesday night in the District of Columbia, a result of the Capitals' overtime triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six Monday night.

Going in, I fully expected Pittsburgh to pull this one out, and I was especially confident it would go that way after they scored almost effortlessly just seconds into a third period power play to go up by one.

Turns out, the Capitals didn't want it to end that way. They scored twice in quick succession, let that lead slip away, and still found a way to win it in overtime.

After watching that game, the wheels in my head started spinning. I was so pumped to see Vancouver follow Washington's lead to force a pivotal matchup in British Columbia, which would have been on Wednesday night as well.

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I even got ahead of myself and thought about what it would be like if Anaheim and Boston could pull out wins on Tuesday to push their respective series to seven games.

I can't truly say I'm disappointed, because both of Monday night's game sixes played out like game sevens, and I was on the edge of my seat.

There was desperation and intensity in every second. And until Patrick Kane completed his hat trick to put Chicago up by two with under four minutes to play, the games were never out of reach for any team.

But a game seven is really like no other game. When a team is down in a series, figuratively their backs are against the wall. In game seven, both teams are facing elimination.

Let's hypothetically say Chicago lost tonight. Coach Joel Quenneville would no doubt have looked at shoring up mistakes his team made to come out with a better effort next game.

After game seven, there isn't a next game. The players are forced to leave it all out on the ice, or be left wondering what might have been.

Almost no one can tell you who scored the game-winning goal in a game one victory, but almost everyone remembers who scored the winner in game seven.

It's what separates men from boys. And to think, it's been nearly 3 years since we've seen a Stanley Cup Final go the distance.

No offense to all the Hurricanes and Red Wings fans out there, but here's hoping that the Bruins and Ducks can find a way to win tomorrow night. Three game sevens in two nights would surely make life worth living.

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