Game Sevens are never fun. We don't have the luxury of losing on a flukey goal or a terrible ref's call and thinking, "Okay, we'll bounce back and show 'em next time." There won't be a next time. We lose, and everyone starts asking questions and pointing fingers. We lose, and everyone becomes a GM and a coach. We lose, and we start blaming ourselves for the superstition we left out or the ritual we forgot.
We lose this time and we bust out the electric razors and the guitar string nooses.
The song "Nothing Gets Crossed Out" by Bright Eyes jumped into my head directly after leaving the Joe on Sunday, just for the first few lines.
"Well, the future's got me worrying such awful thoughts, my head's a carousel of pictures, the spinning never stops. I just want someone to walk in front and I'll follow the leader..."
That's got to be going through the Red Wings' heads right about now, because that's what it looked like in that 6th game. No one wanted to jump out and be the hero, the leader. Our superstars were absent. Our role players were invisible. Our goalie was sleepwalking.
Abdelkader came forth towards the end of the game, and he deserves all the credit in the world for that. He looked like the only player on that ice that was pissed off about the outcome of that game.
So who's going to come out on Tuesday, if anyone? A drunken thought came to me a few hours after the Sunday debacle.
I want Bertuzzi to come out huge. I want him to score, hit, and spin-o-rama his way to a win. I want him to silence all the critics for a while.
And if that happens, we'll immortalize the day as 'Tuzzday.
All (sort of) joking aside, I still haven't completely given up hope. The way the Wings played after that first period on Sunday, I was close. I think seeing that sort of effort in person sapped the spirit out of me more than it would have on television. Seeing open nets not get pucks buried in them (Lilja), golden opportunities fucked away (Draper), weak goals let in (Howard)... it really makes you question how and why you seemed to show up with more heart and effort than the Wings seemed to.
That having been said, I read something over at The Triple Deke that bears repeating. Because I can't say it any better myself.
If you truly think that this team doesn't give a shit, that they pick and choose which games to play hard and which ones to coast, or that you want it 50 times more than they do -- then you are a fucking lunatic. Tell that to Nik Kronwall or Andreas Lilja or Johan Franzen or anyone else who has busted their ass to recover from injuries to get back on that ice. Tell that to any of the guys that watched Crosby skate the Cup on their ice last year and had their souls crushed. I'm sure you're right; they just sleep in, dick around for a few hours and ho-hum their way through these afternoon games because they'd rather count their money. I hate to break it to you but this isn't a team full of Rasheed Wallaces. Go back and read some interviews or watch some video on some of these guys' reactions to getting knocked out of the playoffs and tell me it was because of "heart." Did Stuart fuck away a turnover because he doesn't care, or because of bad decision making? I think I'll take the latter.
I'm reading too many people who seem way too entitled as fans. The Coyotes aren't a bad team as much as you want them to be. Their coach is good. Their goalie isn't some bitch bag Russian hack because he let in one or two softies earlier this series. Give them some credit. All too often I'm seeing trash comments that those same people dog on other team's bandwagon fans for, and it's embarrassing. I can be as pessimistic as the next guy, but dammit I don't act like I'm better than the fucking team. (Except Brett Lebda.)
It's true, we've been jaded. We're too used to seeing comfortable leads and Central Division titles as Valentines Day gifts that I think we don't really realize how hard championships are to win. It's a brutal game they play, and sometimes there are going to be bumps in the road. Sometimes, the other team goes back after a loss, changes and works on strategy and comes back looking good. Just because we walk all over a team for 2 games, doesn't mean the third game is a guaranteed win. A lot of times, it's easy to --in the heat of the moment, after a game when the emotions are still running high-- to criticize the team and accuse them of not showing up. I'm guilty, you're guilty, everyone's guilty.
In person, there were 2 players that seemed to stand out for good reasons: Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader.
It seemed that all the times I noticed a good play, it was made by Miller. I remember him standing out on a power play (one of the few we killed) and getting good pressure in the offensive zone.
Abdelkader... well, we all saw him lay the clean hit on Stempniak and then stick up for himself against Shane Doan's heir to the douche bag throne Derek Morris. Then, 7 minutes later, he comes back and makes Keith Yandle his bitch, sending a message to the Coyotes.
Will the message translate into tomorrow night's game? Will 'Tuzzday actually happen? Will one of our superstars step up and be the hero, or will a role player have his big game (i.e. Helm's Kill last year)? Will Yimmy steal a game, or will the defense be stifling?
Or will we be knee deep in booze and beer bottles come Wednesday morning?