The 2009 Stanley Cup Final will come down to just one game in Detroit on Friday, and it’s the one game that everyone spends a lifetime dreaming about playing in. It is a Game 7 showdown with the Stanley Cup on the line and the resilient Pittsburgh Penguins are confident with their chances to hoist hockey’s most sacred prize.
“It’s something we have all dreamed of,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “We are one win away from doing what we want to do. We’ve got a great opportunity here. It’s a matter of making the most of it and enjoying it, but making the most of it.”
The Penguins certainly know how to make the most of their opportunities, having fought back from a 2-0 deficit at the start of the series and then evening the series at 3-3 with a gutsy 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena Tuesday night. Now, an entire season boils down to this one game.
“You can’t not think about the Stanley Cup,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “You can’t not think about what you are playing for and what it means and the fact that you’ve played for it since you were 5, 6 years old in the backyard and on the driveway and on the rink and after practice. You’ve played for this trophy and now you have a (real) chance.”
The Penguins finally have their chance. They defied critics to tie this series against the very same team that ended the Penguins’ Stanley Cup dreams in six games in last season’s Final. This year it’s no longer about an entire series, it’s about one game and the Penguins strategy is simple.
“No matter what has happened in the past here, it’s one game,” Crosby said. “It’s a one-game, winner-take-all and that’s something that doesn’t change. The main thing is not to have any regrets. We want to leave it all out there. You just have to empty the tank if you haven’t.”
For Game 7, Pittsburgh is sticking with the same strategy that its utilized all season – a strategy that has them one win away from becoming NHL champions.
“Even if Detroit grabs a 2-0 lead in the game, we have to keep playing the same way,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “Eventually, we feel that with the way our team plays and with the guys that we have in here that we will be able to come back, and get back and stay in the game.”
So far in the series, each team has only won at home, meaning the Penguins will have to buck that trend with a win in Detroit in order to win the best-of-seven series – but that prospect doesn’t seem to phase the Penguins.
“It doesn’t matter what we have done there, it’s a matter of playing our game,” Marc-Andre Fleury
“Once you get into a Game 7, I don’t know how much value you can put to the home-ice advantage,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
added. “When you get to a Game 7 it goes out to who plays better that night.”
“In Game 5 last year we beat them in their building so I don’t think we have a problem playing out there,” Maxime Talbot explained. “In Games 1 and 2 we came out pretty solid. They are a good team in their building but it’s Game 7, obviously anything can happen.”
The Penguins also have a secret weapon in their arsenal: forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who scored two goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final with the Tampa Bay Lightening in 2004 – including the game-wining tally. While Fedotenko was responsible for the key goals in the contest, he insists that it was a total team effort, which is the key ingredient in winning the Cup.
“Everyone is focusing on these two goals (I scored) but I want to give credit to the whole team,” Fedotenko explained. “Yeah, I scored two goals but it’s a team effort. Especially in Game 7 of the Cup, it doesn’t matter who scores - we need to win. It doesn’t matter how we find a way but we need to win and then everybody will be talking about everybody.
“Everybody needs to bring their piece to the whole puzzle of this team and do a good job.”
Expect the Penguins to make the most of their Game 7 opportunity, an opportunity they have fought tooth and nail to earn.
“You have to put your best game out there on the ice and you have to lay it all on the ice,” Bylsma said. “You want your team, and you as an individual, to go out there and play your best game.”
“It’s one game and the winning team gets to bring (the Stanley Cup) home,” Talbot said. “We’ve been waiting for this. We can’t wait to get on the ice”