Somewhere, I like to imagine, mine and Homer's night howls crossed paths.
This is what happens when your life--specifically, all the things that serve as buzzkills to your life--plants itself in the way of your more awesome pastimes.
And here we are, friends, at an all-or-nothing crossroads: the brink of the detested Game 7. How did we get to this point? More to the point, how is it that the Wings--a team barreling through the home stretch of the regular season like a pubescent boy with a fuck pass to the girls' locker room--have managed to find themselves pushed to the brink by a team that, for all its grit and grind and gusto, has not been insolvable for the Wings when the Wings pack their A-game?
In short, I have no fucking idea.
I watched the games just like the rest of you. I saw the Wings lose Game 1 in a close rout. I cheered during Game 2 when Hank sent curly fries and wet dreams to all from the high desert. I watched the Wings play a lackluster game last Sunday and again come up short, only to tie up the series once more with Jimmy's first career playoff shutout in Game 4. And on Friday, my drunk ass celebrated the Wings taking the lead in the series for the first time yet with grab-assing and drowning my hoorays in Jameson.
And then Game 6 happened. The Wings had a chance to close out the series at home. And they didn't. With a few short exceptions, there was little to no sustained pressure or coherence in the Wings' play, short of the first few minutes of the first period.
The few short exceptions:
1. Pavel Datsyuk, the ultimate playmaker, was responsible for the Wings' first goal due to his amazing vision on the ice. Fucking spectacular.
2. Henrik Zetterberg had one decent chance when he battled along the boards behind the net and plowed to the front with the puck.
3. Patrick Eaves played briefly like he remembered how awesome he was during the regular season for a couple of shifts during the Wings' various penalty kills during the second period.
4. Justin Abdelkader has played this entire series like a kid who belongs in the big house, and for that, we love him all the more than we already did.
But all in all, it wasn't enough. We can easily pick out goats from Sunday's game: Brad Stuart, despite scoring on the beautiful pass from Datsyuk, committed irreversible mistakes. Furthermore, I believe I caught Johan Franzen's face on a milk carton recently. And our penalty kill on Sunday? About as successful as karmic justice laying the proverbial smackdown on Marian Hossa. And didn't you just fucking know that the streak would be broken as soon as NBC flashed the graphic at the bottom stating we'd killed 19 consecutive penalties in the series?
So, what do we do now to bide our time until go-time tonight? This is the point in the post where I typically lighten the tone with a mindless video or a list of facetious tenets about our experience as Wings fans. But it just doesn't feel right.
I know I'm far from alone when I say that I'm not ready for a Game 7. I'm especially not ready for a first-round Game 7 in a series in which we've watched our team alternately play balls to the wall, then like a bag of ass. I lay awake until almost 3 a.m. last night, the nauseated knot in my stomach growing from a tangerine to a pomelo. (Impressed? Don't be. I don't know what the fuck that even means.)
The boys at The Triple Deke made one of the most honest and succinct points about the way many of us (my hand's raised here, too) initially react with our team's backs against the wall:
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....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.Reading that post was the verbal equivalent of taking a deep breath/Quaalude/choose your own panacea. I tend to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario in order not to be disappointed--or wrong--in the face of said worst-case scenario. But after reading TTD's calling-out of babycrying, I had to ask myself: If we give up believing in our team before Game 7 even begins, what does that say about our fandom? Tonight, we'll gather our lucky charms (in this case, I'm pulling out the #19) and gear down for a great night of hockey. I refuse to leave my seat and exit the (proverbial) arena until the clock has run out, whatever the result may be. Otherwise, what the fuck is the point?
Let's go, Wings.