What’s In A Number

IMG_0143Not a great photo, but it is with my IPhone (forgot my camera), and I had to at least capture the “Fleury” (is that lame!) of excitement as the Penguins would not be denied in the final minute of Game 6 at Mellon Arena. Thanks to Rob Scuderi, literally laying himself on the line, or crease, to be exact. And the “role” players. Everyone has been talking about how “deep” the Red Wings are.  As the  Pens go into Game 7, I think you can say they  have found their own depth. IMG_0151(I know, the photo is of Crosby and Fleury, I didn’t get Staal) That third line, with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, stepped up, and opened the door to a fitting end of an epic series.  I hesitated to call Game 6 “epic.” But several of the sports writers and radio hosts I respect had already labeled it as such. Both these teams deserve a Game 7 and you have to believe it is an indication of how evenly matched they are. This is only the 15th time a Stanley Cup Final has gone to a Game 7.

Unfortunately, some of the other stats surrounding the number 7 don’t favor the Pens. Each of the last six Game 7’s in a Cup final have been won by the home team. And the record for the entire 14 is 12-2. But a number I like. In all of American pro sports, the last team to win a Game 7 away from home was——The Pirates! Baltimore, 1979. 30 years ago. If you are superstitious— and Bryan Trottier, a winner of 7 Stanley Cups (one as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche) told me  that hockey players are the most superstitious of pro athletes–you have to regard the Pittsburgh connection as a good omen. 

Of course, the home team has advantages, as former Penguin and FSN analyst, Jay Caufield reminded me.  On both line changes and face-offs. But he also says a Game 7 will, ultimately come down to the goalies. IMG_0153And I am putting my money on Marc-Andre Fleury. This handsome young man is a radio broadcaster from Fleury’s hometown near Montreal. His seat was next to mine in the press box for all of the home games. The day before Game 6, Renaud Barriere interviewed Fleury in Fleury’s home for almost an hour. Renaud told me before the game, that the drubbing he took in Game 5 would have no effect on him. That he has an ability to move ahead and forget about a bitter defeat, or a “soft” goal. Some analysts speculated after Game 5, that the shutout and the bouncing boards of Joe Louis Arena, would get in Fleury’s head. Renaud doesn’t think so. Not that I am prejudiced, but I really believe Pittsburgh will change the trend. If each of the last SIX series that had a 7th game was won by the home team–then , in this, the 7th in that string of Game 7’s, will be won by the away team.  Don’t you just love sports stats!


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