Nothing Like a Game Seven
Sit back and enjoy this tonight, Stars fans. Or stand and enjoy if you happen to be one of the lucky ones in attendance at American Airlines Center (there will be very little sitting). Because it really doesn’t get any better than Game Seven.
Precious opportunities like this only come around once in a while; four times, to be exact, in the history of the Stars playing in Dallas. Three of those Game Sevens came at home at Reunion Arena, with the Stars holding an all-time 2-1 record in Big D.
Exactly how tonight will go down is a mystery, and it’s the greatest part of sports – the ultimate reality television show. Will Dallas defensemen do their greatest Sergei Zubov impression, providing steady play at critical times as he did in Game Seven of the 2000 Western Conference Finals vs. Colorado, or will one go down in history like Grant Ledyard, remembered in this fair town for his skating turn gaffe in Game Seven vs. Edmonton in 1997, leading to Todd Marchant’s game-winner in overtime?
Zubov said it best to me one day about 10 years ago, when talking about Game Sevens – “This is why we play the game. There’s nothing like it. It is literally do or die and there is no rush like it. And playing it in front of your fans is a huge advantage.”
Zingers and words from the mouths of the players mean nothing. It’s time to put up or shut up. One thing we do know – Tyler Seguin unfortunately will not be part of this game, even though he practiced with his teammates a bit on Tuesday. He’s getting closer but not quite yet.
American Airlines Center is the place to be tonight, for sure. And it will feel more like Game One than Games Two or Five for the home fans. No one has brought this up, but I think it is relevant – the Stars got somewhat hosed with the schedule of the series, as two of Dallas’ home games fell on a weekend early afternoon start time on NBC, a clear advantage for the road team. The home barn will be rocking tonight and the difference is huge.
Expect somewhat of a low-scoring game, as St. Louis will no doubt continue to get the puck deep and play a methodical and patient game plan in attacking with a physical forecheck while giving the Stars little through neutral ice. Dallas will also stay patient and it will be somewhat of a test of wills before one of the teams takes a 1-0 lead before being matched in the second period and a 1-1 score.
This game will come down to special teams and goaltending (they always do). Will we see the Kari Lehtonen from Monday night? Or will Brian Elliott steal the show for the Blues?
If sports stress is not your bag, steer clear of this one. I expect a tight game throughout; maybe a 2-1 final with the game-winner being scored in the early stages of the third period. Who will be the hero?
Well, I fancied the thought of taking a stab, courtesy of the method that Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw made famous in previews of the Stars’ last two Game Sevens back in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Simply take the first letter of the first five paragraphs of this column to learn who will make the difference in the biggest hockey tilt this place has seen since, well, 2000, when Adam Deadmarsh hit the post in the waning seconds.
Enjoy the ride. There’s nothing like a Game Seven. Except Game Seven overtime. Better bring a sedative.