[By Derek Tarr]
Throw everything you know out the window tonight because this is the final act of this amazing drama that has played out before us. All of the typical factors that the talking heads would like us to think affected the outcomes of games become insignificant in a Game 7.
Home Ice: Ahh yes, the fabled home ice advantage. Something that fans like to think makes a difference on the outcome of a game. But in Ice Hockey it is merely piece of mind. It is illustrated in every series that teams win big games on the road in front of thousands of opposing fans, each one hoping for you to fail. The Capital showed this Monday night, case and point,. The Penguins had the opportunity to close out the Caps on home ice, "but alas!" they failed to do so. Home Ice in a game 7 means nothing except that the people in the stands are wearing the opposing colors and that is the extent of it. I know from my time playing hockey, albeit amature hockey, that when you are on the ice the only thing you see and hear is what’s on the ice not what is going on in the stands, whether it be 20,000 screaming douche bags wearing red or your dad yelling at you to shoot, it does not matter to the men on the ice.
Momentum: Yet another overrated aspect of hockey game analysis. In hockey (more than any other sport) any team can be beaten by anybody, on any night. If the "BIG MO" actually affected a game you would have thought that the Pens would have had all the momentum in the world after winning three straight and game 6 would be a gimmie. Furthermore if it affected a series one would think that the Capitals would have ran away with this series after winning the first 2. But again in a game 7 momentum cannot put the puck past a desperate goal tender, it cannot stop a slap shot, and it can’t knock the shit out of someone against the boards.
The players on both sides are desperate at this point and no amount of semantics is going to win the game for them. The two things above are ways for the media to hype a game and justify their “expert” opinions, but neither of the two will dictate who wins tonight. The team who comes out with the most determination, grit, and desire will be moving on. Tonight will be a hard fought game and might very well give me a heart attack or a stroke or both.