Yesterday, Stan (Stan Lerner) asked me to write about the Stanley Cup. At first I thought he was speaking about some shameless self-promotion. Then I thought, “Well, there is the original bowl, the authenticated Cup and the replica at the Hall of Fame.” Of course, I’m kidding. But when you ask the average person their favorite hockey team, they might chuckle.
The truth is hockey does not get the attention it deserves. Seriously. Have you seen a game? Have you seen a game live? It’s incredible.
The atmosphere is unmatched and you actually feel like you are feet away from the action. And of course, humans are for some reason intrinsically attracted to violence. As we all know, hockey harbors bare-knuckled showdowns.
But professional hockey also showcases athleticism and skill. Yes, there is sport behind the squabble. Did you realize the Stanley Cup Finals are underway? You might if you live in Detroit or Pittsburgh. The Red Wings (2 seed) and Penguins (4 seed) face-off in Game Seven this Friday in Detroit.
Only 14 other Stanley Cup Finals have reached Game Seven in NHL history. The sad part about hockey is if you don’t live in a city of a team who is fairing well, you’ve likely lost interest. Los Angeles, I’m sure you haven’t watched the Versus network (one of the networks who shows NHL hockey) for several weeks. The Los Angeles Kings did not earn a playoff berth and the Anaheim Ducks were eliminated several rounds ago.
Still, hockey’s equivalent of the NBA Finals is worth mentioning. It took a lot for the two teams standing to make it here. Detroit swept the Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0), had to get through feisty Anaheim (series took all seven games) and rough up the surging Chicago Blackhawks (Detroit took series 4-1 and ended the Blackhawks’ first playoff run in seven years). The Detroit and Chicago series went into overtime three times. Tiring. Pittsburgh had to endure two full seven-game series against both cross-state rival Philadelphia and the Washington Capitals. The Penguins then got in rhythm and swept the Carolina Hurricanes (4-0) before meeting Detroit in the Finals.
Clearly, both teams are running on mere adrenaline at this point. The long season has taken its toll but Detroit may have the edge. The Red Wings have been here before. Detroit has played in six (6) Game Sevens (in the Cup) and managed a 3-3 record in those games. Home teams are 12-2 in Game Seven. However, Detroit has one of those losses. Still, the Penguins are the ones that have something to prove.
Pittsburgh has an impressive history but is basically facing a goliath. The Penguins have two Stanley Cups, but the last time they hoisted the revered trophy was in 1992. They came close to winning the Cup in 2008, but lost to the Red Wings in six games.
Is that something I forgot to mention? Yes, this is a rematch. However, with history and 11 Stanley Cups (including last season’s) on their side, Detroit remains the favorite. Still, things are getting a little interesting.
If you’ve yet to catch a game this season, why not start now? There’s not much investment involved, as there’s only one game left. If you like it, which I guarantee you will (both teams will play with a lot of energy and passion), give hockey a whirl again next season. You’re welcome to support whichever team you like, but don’t forget there are two in the region.
Should you really want to experience hockey, make your way out to Detroit. There are over 700 tickets left for the game. If you want to spot me, I’ll pay you back the several thousand (tickets range from $455 to $3531) in a few months. On second thought… I’ll wait until next season.