Elimination games are always tense in sports.
So much is riding on the game, especially emotions, because the winner moves closer to glory while the loser goes home in misery.
Those feelings are magnified even more for game sevens in team sports.
Tonight the hockey world braces itself for an epic game seven encounter between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals at 8pm.
Both squads have been battling from game one and the games have been a hard-fought affair.
Detroit started the series off with consecutive 3-1 wins at Joe Louis Arena. The two constants in those games were goalie Chris Osgood made more than his fair share of great saves for the Red Wings while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin struggled to make an impact on the game.
Pittsburgh would not back down though as they got physical in games three and four. They checked Detroit hard into the boards and seemed to have the fresher legs. The result was a pair of 4-2 victories at Mellon Arena.
The recurring theme in the Penguins’ home wins was Crosby and Malkin filled up the stats sheet and guys like Sergei Gonchar hampered the Red Wings offense.
From there Detroit would return to form in game five as they whooped Pittsburgh 5-0. Everything went right for the Red Wings as they got scoring across the board, even from defenseman Brian Rafalski.
However Pittsburgh pulled out an epic 2-1 win in game six on Tuesday. Gaolie Marc-Andre Fleury would have arguably his best game for Pittsburgh and was tested often in a frantic third period that could have gone either way.
Two of the things Pittsburgh can take with them into game seven is they were able to win for the first time in the playoffs without a point from Crosby or Malkin. Meanwhile Detroit got no production from Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk.
With the game on Detroit’s home ice the Red Wings seem to have the initial edge. Even though the team has won the most Stanley Cups this decade their fans are sure to cheer and rally on their team.
Sure to add to their enthusiasm is the fact that the home teams have won every game in this series. Therefore home ice seems to be the ticket to glory.
Many hockey fans feel it is only right the series has gone to seven games. Last year when these squads squared off on the same stage, the Red Wings took down the Penguins in six games. Then again most will you they can never get enough of the buzz from Stanley Cup game sevens (which the NHL has seen five of this decade).
Tonight onlookers can expect a tough game with plenty of hard checks and power plays. The goalies also have to stay alert and not allow any easy goals.
Defense may win titles but it seems offensive production is the key for tonight. Detroit is a far better team when it can get a goal in the first period than later in the game. Pittsburgh meanwhile has the ability to score in bunches and put teams away.
No matter who wins, this series was a great one for hockey. What better way to keep fans happy than featuring the best teams and the best players on the biggest stage.