We are two rounds away from declaring a winner in Rinkotology.
If you don't have the correct final four picked, you might as well pack it up.
After the jump, you will see the unreal bracket that is leading in the standings.
Potentially 3 three-day breaks. No NBC? Weird.
Here we go.
7:08 Wednesday night, balls were going to fall off. Ovaries were gonna turn to stone.
And here we were at 11:23 Thursday night.
Scott Walker puts home an Game 7 OT winner.
Now we have to deal with the color red for another series.
The Caps are gone, completely out of everyone's minds.
Now the Caps are forgotten.
h/t to ChrisMill
We now move our attention to a team we have no reason to hate.
To a fanbase we have zero connection to.
The Whalers/Canes and the Pens have never played in the playoffs.
Ron Francis and Tom Barrasso will be lurking in the shadows all series.
But that's not the only thing we're all gonna have to deal with.
In fact, strange as it may be,
this series has more plotlines than a John Grisham novel.
Staal vs. Staal drinking game.
Set the ground rules.
Game 1: Monday, May 18, 7:30pm - Hurricanes at Penguins
Game 2: Thursday, May 21, 7:30pm et - Hurricanes at Penguins
Game 3: Saturday, May 23 - Penguins at Hurricanes
Game 4: Tuesday, May 26 - Penguins at Hurricanes
*Game 5: Friday, May 29 - Hurricanes at Penguins
*Game 6: Sunday, May 31 - Penguins at Hurricanes
*Game 7: Tuesday, June 2 - Hurricanes at Penguins
A couple more game sevens tonight.
Obviously, the Carolina/Boston match-up is of great importance to Penguins fans.
The winner of that series will advance to the Eastern Conference Final against the Pens.
Pittburgh went 2-1-1 against Carolina during the regular season.
They would have home ice against the 'Canes.
The Pens were 2-2 against the Bruins.
A series between those two teams would begin in Boston.
Anaheim versus Detroit doesn't immediately impact the Penguins yet, but watching Hossa lose while the Pens advanced would give all us some joy.
After the Game 6 loss, there was disbelief.
Games like that make you wish you followed Perez Hilton and not a professional hockey team.
But what turned the tide was the chance of Sergei Gonchar playing.
Before you knew it, he was lined up for the opening faceoff.
How is that even possible?
The Caps almost looked like they couldn't believe he was playing.
Sports are not just about big-time moments and big-time performances.
They are about watching people do things that you can't do.
That's what Gonch did in this Game 7.
All he did was get an assist on the all-important first goal.
This is now two Willis Reed moments for Gonchar in as many seasons.
Feeding off the inspiration, the Pens were almost machine-like.
As Earl Mann once said about Mario Lemieux,
tonight Washington saw Sidney Crosby's gunfighter eyes.
Remember how Semin jobbed him in back in October? [ PUCK DADDY ] What was going through Semin's mind when he saw Crosby on that breakaway from his own blue line in Game 7?
And how about that joke band that wrote the song about Crosby?
We hope the lead singer enjoys drinking his own urine and touching Chris Cooley's weiner.
In the end, Game 7 wasn't the heart attack we expected.
But it is what we needed.
Our faith has been rewarded.
Enjoy this one until the end of Boston/Carolina tonight.
'Cause we're gonna do this all over again.
Enjoy this tonight.
But this is only another series now.Add a comment
Series Tied 3-3
7:00PM - Verizon Center
["Net Lit In Red" by clydeorama on Flickr]
Here we are.
After all we've been through.
Here we are.
Several momentum changes.
None of it means anything if we don't win this one.
We're in enemy territory.
Our backs are against the wall.
It's now or never.
Do or die.
A million clichés have been rushing through our collective heads since Monday night.
They've been followed by a million emotions.
It all went so fast.
The preseason game against Jokerit.
Sergei Gonchar injuring his shoulder.
Starting the season against the Senators in Sweden.
One of the best season-opening records in team history.
Coming back to defeat Detroit in overtime.
Falling into a terrible slump in the winter.
Getting blown out by Toronto and Florida.
Finishing the season strong.
Beating Philly in the first round.
Dueling hat tricks with Ovechkin.
And now here we are.
Days like today don't come around too often.
Even if you're a stickler, you're using "we" to refer to the Penguins today.
Tuesday was the day you spent quality time with your loved ones,
reminding yourself what you would be fighting for tonight.
What a horrible day to be alive.
After watching Bruce Boudreau's Oompa Loompa-like River Dance celebration
for the 100th time, there was no hope in our souls.
At 8:00AM, there was no chance the Pens were winning tonight.
Can't recover from this.
10:00AM -- Listening to Stan and Guy and Chris Mack. They're relatively calm.
Well, you never know.
11:00AM -- Word breaks that Gonchar is practicing.
There is a pulse.
1:00PM -- You stop at Weiner World on Smithfield Street for ice cream. The strange lady who is waiting on you just starts talking about the Pens out of nowhere.
"They just deserve it," she says.
There is a definite heartbeat.
It won't hit you when you wake up.
It won't hit you when you secretly time your lunch break with that hot girl at work.
But it will start creeping in around 2:00.
And it'll hit Rick at 4:00 when he clicks "New Post" and settles in for a Gameday post.
It'll hit you when you leave work and fumble for your keys,
using your keyless-entry remote to unlock your car with a rare intensity.
If you're just sitting around all day touching yourself,
Game 7 might be the only reason you're even alive.
You look at complete strangers on the bus or in rush-hour traffic.
You share a glance.
If you work until 6:00 this evening, you are one of the lucky ones.
You will have very little time to really get in the zone for the battle.
Getting in the zone consists of convincing yourself
that Sidney Crosby will simply not let the Penguins lose tonight.
Getting in the zone consists of wondering if the light reflecting off of Gonchar's forehead in the pre-game warmup footage on FSN is as bright as it's been in your dreams.
It consists of reminding yourself that MAF has yet to steal a game this series
while Varlamov has done that more than once.
Are you playing mind games with yourself?
Simply convincing yourself of things that just aren't there?
Alone in the dark today with nothing but your thoughts,
time can draw out like a blade.
Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.