The Stanley Cup Final started off last night in such a manner that I cannot imagine a higher-quality game.
What more could fans ask for than a triple-overtime game- the fifth longest in Stanley Cup history- full of point-blank chances, mind-blowing saves, a physicality as of yet unmatched in these playoffs, and a spectacular, twice-redirected, game-winning goal?
Nothing. In fact, fans may ask for less.
By the halfway point of the third period, I felt as though I had been battling Zedeno Chara myself for the previous four plus hours. My eyes burned, I was experiencing waves of nausea, could not consume liquids or solids, and I frequently checked my pulse to make sure it had not reached dangerous levels.
Just watching game one of the Stanley Cup Final was a physical test.
As the game trudged on, my respect for the players on the ice grew to massive proportions. The exhaustion and desperation was clearly evident in the eyes of players on both teams. Despite the length of the game and the fatigue of their opponents, neither team would move an inch, and at times it seemed as though game one would truly never end.
The Boston Bruins have a fantastic team, and we in Chicago know what the Blackhawks bring to the table. While the unpredictability of the NHL playoffs will likely still prevail, offering further surprises as the series continues, this Stanley Cup match-up appears to be as well-contested as advertised.
Game one featured two teams literally taking eachother to their respective limits, and hockey fans reaped the benefits. This was one of the greatest hockey games many of us will ever see... and there are at least three more to come.
For Blackhawks fans, the night ended perfectly, with Andrew Shaw potting his game-winner practically at the turn of midnight. Surely this was a devastating loss for the Bruins, but if game one taught us anything, it is that no amount of negative momentum will affect either of these teams.
The Blackhawks killed off numerous penalties, not to mention erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period. The Bruins killed a number of key penalties as well, including a 3-on-5, and refused to give-in after the Hawks found a way to tie the game up. These teams were less than nine minutes away from playing the minutes of two full regulation games.
Viewers are in for a series full of games like last night's. Although triple overtime will (hopefully) not rear its heart-attack-inducing head again in the upcoming games, each bout between the Hawks and Bruins in this Stanley Cup Final should boast a competitive and thrilling product similar to the wonder we all witnessed in game one.
Fans of tension, drama and excitement simply will not find a better product than this year's Stanley Cup Final. Although I may not be as open with admitting it if the Blackhawks had not won, that was an incredible game, and we are all lucky to have seen it.
What lies on the horizon for these two teams is unsure. The only clear truth at this point is that NHL fans are in for quite the treat, and if games two through (potentially) seven are anywhere near as exciting as game one, I am not sure I can handle all of the brilliance.