In my wonderfully emotional state today, I was actually imagining what it was like to watch that final between Montreal and LA. Given the date and my frame of mind, you can't blame me too much for wondering what it would've been like to see the Canadiens holding the Cup. It was pretty easy to imagine actually...
While the Wings and the Pens took to the ice, I was imagining that I was watching that final between my Habs and the LA Kings. I imagined that the butterflies I was feeling right then for the Wings would've probably been about ten times worse as I watched les boys take to the ice of the Forum. Instead of seeing Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Osgood out there, I would've been watching guys like Carbonneau, Savard, Roy taking to the ice. Heck was that really Breezer and Schneider out there too? Instead of Mike Babcock standing behind my guys, Jacques Demers would have been standing there. Instead of boring Dan Byslma I would have seen.... Barry Melrose? For real? These two guys? Maybe the reality of Babcock and Byslma currently behind the benches at Mellon Arena was a little easier to take.
I'm sure a billion thoughts would have been racing through my mind at that point as the refs were about to drop the puck in the Forum. First there would have been the immediate thoughts: Can we actually win this game? Can we seriously close out the series and win the Stanley Cup by beating the Kings? Would I actually be watching the Canadiens carry the Cup tonight? I would've run down the other games in my mind too just to remind myself just who it was that had a 3-1 series lead.
Of course that horrendously awful game one drubbing would've come to mind. The Great One would've definitely have bugged me much like the Anointed One continues to do now. I would've particularly remembered how it was Breezer who had caused a turnover that would've put the game out of our reach (some things, they just don't change, do they?).
Game two would've been remembered for that whole illegal curve thing with McSorely's stick. I would have probably have thought that Demers was insane for 1) asking to have the stick checked in the first place and 2) pulling Roy. I would've probably bitten my fingers with anticipation until finally! Desjardins scores! We're tied, baby! And then just like that, only 51 seconds into OT, Desjardins would score again, sending the Forum crowd, previously totally silent with the prospect of their team going down two games to nil heading back to LA, would've gone ballistic. It would've been insane. Would I have been able to sleep that night? Doubtful. I would've literally dreamed about Desjardins goals after replaying them in my mind for the rest of the night.
Games three and four would've been long, long nights. The cheering after the quick leads, only to be replaced with finger biting and screaming as the Kings fought back to force OT.... and then the elation as John Leclaire would score both OT winners to bring us back to Montreal again. Back for a chance to see our guys carrying the Cup.
Those OT winners in particular would've been fresh in my mind as the puck dropped in Game 5. I would've remembered to try to stay calm no matter what lead we took tonight. Goals can be scored and leads can turn into ties. Ties can be broken by the right team or the wrong team. We needed to play a full and complete game. We needed to win this one at here at home. We needed to send the Kings back to California. Let Kings have the Great One if they wanted him. We were going to win this one. We weren't supposed to be here but now that we were here, we sure as hell weren't going to lose to the Kings.
There would've been cheers that you could probably hear across the entire island as Paul DiPietro scored the first goal. Then there would've been finger biting again as both teams came close to scoring again. Would I have cheered on Roy like I cheered on Price and Halak as he made a save? Of course. Roy would've been my goalie. The end of the first period would've been the most wonderful thing ever. I would have had a chance to relax my tense muscles, try to calm down my frayed nerves. Maybe throw in a jibe or two at the Great One as well. Dissing the enemy was a great way to stave off the thoughts that the opposition could still score.
Period two would not get off to a good start. Marty McSorely with his now perfectly legal stick would've beaten Roy. Tied game. But before we could all moan too much about it, we'd get the goal right back. A much younger looking Kirk Muller than the guy I remember seeing behind the Habs bench last year, would've scored just 71 seconds later. There would have been a "thank the hockey gods!" prayer followed by more finger biting. Could we hold this lead? Could we actually win? We were winning now. But leads meant nothing before.... OH GOAL! Stephan Lebeau would score on the powerplay. Maybe I would've fallen off my chair at that point as I screamed with joy. Or maybe that would come a little more than half way through the third period when Paul DiPietro would give us what would turn out to be our last goal of the game to make it 4-1. FOUR TO ONE. Just under eight minutes to go. Could the Kings score 3 goals in that amount of time? Anything was possible, but was it probable? The Kings would've looked dejected by now. The Habs would've tasted blood and knew victory was in their grasp.
The remaining time would've been agonizingly slow. Every shot that came near Roy would've had everyone ducking for cover. Nobody wanted to see the Kings score. Not now. We needed our win. We needed the Stanley Cup. Finally, the last minute would've arrived. I would've counted down the seconds. 60 seconds..... 30 seconds.... 10..... 5.... 4...3...2...1. WE WON! There would've been even more shouting. Even more jumping up and down. Hugging too perhaps. It would've just been a blur of noise and total elation.
The Canadiens had just won their 24th Stanley Cup. WE WON. Not those Penguins who were supposed to come into these playoffs as the favorites and had gotten booted out in 7 games by the Islanders. Not the hated Nordiques. Not those pesky Islanders themselves who had taken out Mario Lemieux and co (I'm pretty certain that Lemieux would've annoyed me almost as much as the Great One). And definitely not the still highly touted Great One and his band of desert followers. No. WE WON. The Montreal Canadiens won.
I would've watched Carbonneau take the Cup. I would've seen the other guys, Muller, Schneider, Breezer and Roy hold it. Nobody would have cared too much at that moment that Roy had won the Conn Smythe trophy too. Sure it was nice. Sure he deserved it, but we would've watched him carrying the Stanley Cup around the Forum. I probably would have spared a small thought for the Great One but just a small one. And it would've been a "Hah!" type of thought anyway. Not particularly mature but someone had to win it and I was watching MY boys carry the Cup.
This time sixteen years ago we would have probably still been jumping up and down. We would've been talking about the game, the series, the playoffs and the season. We would've been talking about how we never expected to see it happen - but it did. We won. And we would've heard about the rioting... oh.... the rioting.......
Of course this was the point where the day dream faded away and I once again saw Sidney Crosby instead of Wayne Gretzky on the ice. Osgood replaced Roy. Instead of Breezer plays, I got Rafalski plays. Carbonneau, who I probably would have liked as a player, faded away to be replaced with Lidstrom. Babcock was back and was looking angry. Melrose's antics were replaced with boring Bylsma. Thanks to Kennedy, the Pens will be heading back to Detroit for game seven. On Friday night, one way or another, someone is walking out with the Stanley Cup. Another season over. The sixteenth now since Les Boys brought it home.
Maybe if I'm in the right frame of mind I can imagine the goalie holding the Cup on Friday is Roy or maybe even Price. Maybe for a split second I can see my Habs holding the Cup. I'm looking forward to the day when I don't have to imagine what it will be like to see my team win because like it or not, I will be there when they win. I will get to see them raise their 25th Stanley Cup.
[and maybe I should stop writing things at 2 o'clock in the morning... hmm... ]