Seconds and inches mean everything in a Game 7. Detroit had played hard with the target on their back throughout the regular season and four rounds of the playoffs. When they pressed late – it was a crossbar here, a skate in the way there, that cost the Red Wings that second goal they were looking for.
Pittsburgh was potentially one loss away in February of finding themselves too deep in a hole and out of the playoffs. They made a late-season coaching switch and won two Game 7’s on the road. For the next year, Pittsburgh, and not Detroit, will be known as the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
For Red Wings fans there is still quite a great deal of disbelief. Wasn’t Gary “Boo birds” Bettman supposed to be handing the Stanley Cup to Nicklas Lidstrom?
For the past four games, the second period made the entire difference to the game’s result. Who would have thought that Maxime Talbot would be the one name that Red Wings fans will curse in their dreams for years to come. His two goals were enough to make the Wings former Cup Champions rather than its defenders. It was fitting that he was right next to Fleury to congratulate his team’s netminder following the final horn.
When Detroit’s hockey fans eventually come out of this funk that is half-mourning, half-disbelief, there will be a recognition that this Red Wings team was a special one. No one individual is to blame for falling one goal short of the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh was more hungry to win the Cup and they are very deserving to be the 2008-09 Champions — the second in four months for the Steel City.