JEFF: Die Another Day
By Jeff Falconio
Have you gotten Cup Crazy yet? The NHL couldn't be more pleased with the way the Stanley Cup finals have shaped up. It's been a good series thus far. Pittsburgh's triple overtime win Monday night solidified that fact. The Penguins were 34 seconds away from a long offseason of what-ifs but Max Talbot changed that with the game tying goal.
I've said this forever and it still holds true: there's nothing more exciting than overtime playoff hockey. It's even more true when the Cup is at stake. As the second overtime unfolded, I started getting that feeling that most hockey fans get after 30 minutes or so of bonus hockey. The feeling of "how long is this game gonna last?" What if it last four overtimes? How about nine overtimes? It's like that episode of "Seinfeld" where Kramer tries to see how long he can drive a car on an empty tank of gas. I wanted this game to last all night just so I could be there when the red light finally went off. I wanted to be able to say I watched the whole thing. I wanted to prove my manhood by finding out how long I could sit in front of the TV and watch hockey. I wanted to tell my friends the next day "see the bags under my eyes, oh yeah, got that from Game Five."
By the third overtime players were changing into dry uniforms and NBC was reporting that players were eating pizza between periods to retain their strength. I began to contemplate a change of ratty t-shirts and a call to the local pizza delivery place but before I could Petr Sykora delivered the game winner. So, the Penguins will live to die another day, to borrow a phrase from the James Bond movie. The Penguins finally took advantage of a power play in that third overtime. Clearly, to get to Game Seven, the Pens must learn to start but also finish a game. Once again Monday night Detroit dominated the third period before letting the lead slip away in the final minute. The Red Wings have been more aggressive and more physical and in doing so they've stifled Pittsburgh's offense and power play units. Despite the statistical edge the Wins have developed throughout the series it's been a barn-burner, one that deserves a seventh game back in Detroit.