It seems so cliché to say but Game 7 is where heroes are made and where goats are born. So who will be the hero? It seems so cliché to say that one team will experience triumph while the other will experience anguish. But it’s going to happen tomorrow night. How is it going to happen? Nobody knows.
Sometimes the stars are the heroes and sometimes it’s a role player. Two years ago, Alex Burrows was the hero in Vancouver when the Canucks eliminated the Blackhawks after two years of frustration. The goat was Chris Campoli whose clearing attempt did not get out albeit because of a fantastic effort by Ryan Kesler to jump and pick it out of midair.
But the beauty of a Game 7 is you never know who is going to be the hero? It can be a star who is struggling such as Pavel Datsyuk who has one goal in the series or Henrik Zetterberg who has three assists in the series but has not lit the lamp. Both guys have not had their best series but neither have most of the Blackhawks stars either.
Up until Game 5, Jonathan Toews was struggling mightily against Zetterberg and company. In the past two games, Toews has scored one goal and had two assists. Marian Hossa has three points in the past two games as well. While Toews and Hossa are heating up, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have been ice cold. Kane has one point in the last two days. Meanwhile Sharp hasn’t recorded a point since Game 2 when he had an assist.
In series you need your stars to step up and this has been a series where none of the stars have shined. They have effectively neutralized each other. But as the stars go so do their teams so it is worth keeping an eye out for Zetterberg and Datsyuk versus Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp.
But in a lot of situations it is how the role players step up. Detroit has gotten great contributions out of Damien Brunner who has three goals in the series so far. Daniel Cleary has been very effective as well as he has 2 goals and 2 assists in the series.
The Blackhawks have gotten just as much production out of their role players as well. They had the 2 goal performance of Andrew Shaw in Game 5 and getting three goals in the third period in Game 6 from Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik.
When it comes down to one game anybody can be the hero. Just like anybody can be the goat. The pressure will be on the goaltenders who both had rough moments in Game 6. Jimmy Howard allowed three goals in the first ten minutes of the third period and Corey Crawford allowed a major softie as he whiffed on a slow shot from Joakim Andersson.
The great thing about Game sevens is that in 60 minutes a story will be written to summarize the series. Stars become goats and minor characters step up to become the hero. Who is it going to be? Is it going to be Dave Bolland or Justin Abdelkader? Maybe it will be Brendan Smith or Nick Leddy. Or it could be a duel between Toews and Zetterberg.
You just never know what is going to happen tomorrow night. There will be highs and lows with emotions swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. It will be some of the most fun and stressful hockey that you will ever see.
It is going to be awesome. And only two words can describe it.