04 June 2008

Playoff Algebra

I watched that heartbreaking Game 5 sitting hunkered down on a couch next to at least three other people I consider to have become hockey fans in large part because of me (this is not to brag about myself at all, but rather to admit to the fact that I have been forcing my obsession on all of my friends and am surprised they still stick around), entreating them to watch, to learn, to love the playoffs and to see their team through it, trying to explain to them what it feels like to watch your team lift Lord Stanley, to even be, yourself, in the same room with the greatest prize you can imagine.

And the whole time, what I found myself constantly explaining to them was, "I want x player to win the cup because y." Then I saw this post of Dave's, which was along similar lines, and I thought about it, and that really honestly is part of the reason I want this so badly - of course you always want to see your team win, but more importantly I want to see each individual little piece of the team to succeed. I want this for all of them.

I want Nick Lidstrom to lift the Cup as the first European captain to do it, after all the years he's given to this team and how he's quietly been the best guy out there nearly every night.

I want Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to lift the Cup and prove once and for all that they are in fact one of the greatest duos in hockey. Ever. I want, I admit, to know that my Eurotwins, my stars, were brighter than the dynamic Crosby/Malkin pair. I want to see the looks on their faces when they jump on each other afterward like they do after every goal, because you know they will.

I want Chris Osgood to lift the Cup for all the years he's spent being "the worst goalie to win the Cup." I want the remarkable season he had when no one expected it out of him to be rewarded.

I want Darren McCarty to lift the Cup because what he did was amazing. Say what you will about how he let his life degenerate in the first place, but can you imagine struggling through the IHL, to the AHL, to the NHL, working back to the form you were in years ago because you only just now realized how much you love and need this sport - working all this way back and being able to lift Lord Stanley for your efforts? No better reward exists. And I want to see him lift it alongside Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, the Grind Line reunited.

I want Dallas Drake to lift the Cup because who knows, it could be his last year, and the fact that he's been in the league this long and through so much pain (seriously look at his face), celebrated 1,000 games played, and this is the first year he's even gotten to the finals.

I want Brian Rafalski to lift the Cup because of how long he spent apparently stifled in New Jersey, because he came home to Michigan and broke out, broke his career highs all over the place, and fit in so spectacularly.

I want Brad Stuart to lift the Cup because I want him to stay here, I want the fact that we rescued him (no offense Connie!) and brought him in to a place where he could shine to mean something. I want our one trade deadline acquisition, our little minor notch on the day, to become a huge piece of a championship.

I want Johan Franzen to lift the Cup because hot damn. Two hat tricks in three games, 29 goals in 28 games. Because he destroyed our expectations of him and then some.

I want Tomas Holmstrom to lift the Cup for every goal he's had called off, for every time his "large backside" has been in OR out of the crease with the same result, because he's been the pest we needed and his role is one of the most under appreciated. And because his Knob Hockey is the funniest thing ever.

I want Dan Cleary to lift the Cup because I want to think about all of Newfoundland nearly exploding. I want to see a kid who barely made the team in the first place, who floundered elsewhere, make the most of breaking out in Detroit.

I want Niklas Kronwall to lift the Cup because it would be the perfect end to his year, a season he finally got through without a rash of fluky injuries, and it would prove what a powerhouse he is in a way no one has gotten to see before.

I want Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula and Darren Helm to lift the Cup because I watched them in Grand Rapids and I saw them become, a little bit, what they are, and because they're the future, the "rookies" that we so often have passed up in the past.

Hell I even want Dominik Hasek to lift the Cup because yeah, he wasn't great, and yeah, people don't like him, but look what he still did for us this year and last year and who doesn't want to retire on a note like that. I even want Chris Chelios to lift it because it'll give one more thing for VS to tack on when they tell us how old he is every game. I even want Andreas Lilja to lift it because while I profess my hatred for him and he scares me, he's been an integral part too. I even want Brett Lebda to lift it because Kirsten loves him and he's a Chicago boy and that's almost hometown. And I even want Mikael Samuelsson to lift it because even though he can't score on an opening the size of the broad side of a barn if it killed him, he somehow manages to pull off the weird quirky ones that really, really matter.

Tonight is huge. We were so close we literally tasted it. 34.7 seconds away. Let's make it zero.

I want x player to win this cup because y. The whole team.

I want the Detroit Red Wings to win the Cup because I love this team, as a whole, in fractions, in pieces, and every single one of them deserves it. I want it, and they want it, and they're ready to fight for it. GO WINGS.


Connie said...

You TOTALLY rescued him!!! Thank you!!

Tracy said...

I hate you.

Congratulations, again.

I cried at your team lifting the cup (but don't get too excited, I cried more over Selanne lifting it last year).

Kirsten said...

Do you not normally like Brett Lebda?

Steph said...

Connie: You're welcome! Now I just have to convince him to stay.

Tracy: You don't hate me! (I cried both years too - but last year was for a whooole different reason :P)

Kirsten: No, I like him! I just couldn't think of any really good specific reason for him :P

Kirsten said...

Ah, well I will accept that as the proper excuse. I openly cheered for him when he got to lift the Cup.

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