Penguins-Capitals: Who Wants To Be a Hero?

Tim KingCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 08:  Goaltender Simeon Varlamov #40 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on May 8, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Capitals goaltender Simeon Varlamov has dragged his teammates kicking and screaming into a unlikely Game Seven Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins

His Russian teammate Alexander Ovechkin supplied all of the offense his team needed in Game Two—and to the casual observer, has eclipsed his young netminder.

On the other side of the ice, Sidney Crosby has taken his game to an absurd new level matching Ovechkin's Game Two hat trick and refusing to lose Game Six by swatting at a loose puck four times before he buried the tying goal last night. 

After taking a couple of nights off early in the series, Evgeni Malkin has become a scoring terror as well.

Any of these men could be heroes Wednesday night.  Wanna bet its someone else?

A note to ponder—for all of his greatness Mario Lemieux never scored a game winner in Game Seven of a series in his career.  Never. 

Don't look at the top of the score sheet for the guy who might be the hero Wednesday.  Look at the bottom.  History is replete with guys like Tom Fitzgerald, David Volek, and Darius Kasparitis, who suddenly find themselves with the series on their stick and bury it. 

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Hockey has a funny way of building up series like this one where superstars do their thing agian and again, only for the whole thing to be decided by someone who hasn't scored a playoff goal this century.  Or ever. 

The Capitals already found one Monday night in David Steckel.  After being badly outgunned for the fifth time in the series, the Capitals found themselves in overtime with a face off in the Penguins zone.  Steckel won the faceoff, breaking Max Talbot's stick in the process and wandering into the low slot where the puck found his stick and the back of the net in lightning quick fashion. 

The Capitals lived to see another day, and spared Varlamov from further abuse—thanks to someone not named Ovechkin.

Much as the NHL would like to find a way for it to be otherwise, this throbbing, out-of-this-world offensive show will end Wednesday night or early Thursday morning at the latest. 

History tells us not to be surprised if its Hal Gill or Tom Poti who fires the final shot.    

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