Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is what everyone dreams of. For most kids the dream never amounts to much more than in your driveway, local pond or rink when you skate around imagining the puck was on your stick with the Stanley Cup in the balance. But for the very, very few lucky and talented ones, Game 7 is about to be a reality.
Some involved in this game already know about it. Petr Sykora (though injured now) played with one Dan Bylsma (now of course the coach) under the leadership of then Anaheim coach Mike Babcock in 2003 for a Stanley Cup Game 7. They all lost in the most crushing of emotions. So close, but just not good enough. Today, on Detroit (and Babcock's) side will be defenseman Brian Rafalski, who played an instrumental role for the New Jersey's playoff run.
They all know what it's about. And so does Ruslan Fedotenko.
In the spring of 2004 Fedotenko had a magical run, 12 goals in 22 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning (tied with Brad Richards for the team lead). But without a doubt the biggest two goals 'Tenk scored were his final two. They both came in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, the only offense Tampa would get and need. The Lightning would hold on for the 2-1 win and raise Lord Stanley.
Game 7 is what we all dream of, from the time we first learn the game of hockey. It's equal parts fear and excitement. A steady level of total fear but with the ultimate prize just around the bend. For one side there's nothing but heartbreak. For the other there's sheer celebration for reaching the summit.
We're hours away from finding out. By now everything that can be said and written, has been said and written. It comes down to 18 skaters and a goalie against 18 skaters and a goalie. Who makes the plays, who makes the mistakes and who capitalizes on it all means everything.