Game seven is where heroes are made.
One of the most interesting things about game sevens is the rollercoaster ride they take you on. Every hit feels bigger. Every shot seems more deadly. Every bounce could end the game. Since the Habs 4-3 victory on Monday night we've all been on that rollercoaster. Emotions have been everywhere.
Anything can happen in game seven and it usually happens quickly. In the span of a few seconds you can go from feeling unbelievable fear to experiencing incredible joy. And it happens the other way around too. Game sevens are rarely boring. They are rarely predictable. And they are rarely easy.
It is in these games where heroes are made. They are born out of adversity. They are forged out of intensity. When it matters the most some players step up and perform at their highest level.
We've all seen it happen with superstars. Mario Lemieux. Jaromir Jagr. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin.
All of those men have risen to the occassion in their careers. They have taken their teams on their backs and played at a level that most of us can only dream about.
But it's not always the superstar that becomes the game seven hero. In fact, many times it's an unlikely player that finds another gear and propells his team to victory. These players do not become heroes because of their incredible natural talents. They do not achieve success by ability alone. These men rise up and become legendary because of their hearts, their desire and their tenacity. These heroes succeed because they have the will to do so.
So it's not entirely surprising that these men are most often the keys to victory in game seven. When the stakes are high and the competition is fierce sometimes emotion, heart and dedication are all that separate two teams from one another.
The Penguins have a roster of playoff heroes. They smell like smoke because they have been through fire. These are their triumphs.
Anaheim VS. New Jersey, 2003 Stanley Cup Final
Calgary VS. Vancouver, 2004
Calgary VS. Tampa Bay, 2004 Stanley Cup Final
Detroit VS. Pittsburgh, 2009 Stanley Cup Final
It goes without saying that strong defense, clutch goaltending and talented offense are all necessary for playoff success. That is why players like Sergei Gonchar, Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will all be focal points of tonight's game. Without these talented players the Penguins would not be successful.
But when it comes to game seven, an extra push is often needed. Sometimes a team requires a little extra energy to push past their opponent. That is when players like Mike Rupp, Matt Cooke, Ruslan Fedotenko and Max Talbot stand out. None of these players would be confused for Sidney Crosby, but they have forged their own legacies in the NHL due to their game seven heroics.
Who will be the hero tonight?