I felt it was appropriate to open my blog with these lyrics from the Rush classic "Limelight". What better way to describe opening night of the 2006-07 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Especially for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans who have waited since the end of the 2000-2001 season to see the team play for a chance to hold Lord Stanley's Cup! The Pens, with Sidney Crosby at center stage, will certainly be in the limelight tonight as they take on the Ottawa Senators.
This season has been everything, and more, than even the most optimistic fan could have hoped for. After last season, where everything that could go wrong did, maybe this is some kind of karmic retribution.
But...even though this team has surpassed all expectations, it's important that we take a moment to stop and realize just how fortunate we are to be back in the hunt...and SO SOON.
As fans, we need to remember that, for the most part, this team is just a bunch of kids. Maybe they truly are "cast in this unlikely role, ill-equipped to act". We need to aknowledge to ourselves that it's entirely possible that they will leave this playoff way ahead of (our) schedule. That as Ray Shero said at the beginning of the season, we are *building* a team to compete for the cup. That building process will likely go on well past these playoffs. And if an early playoff exit occurs, it's OK. It will be terribly disappointing, but it will be OK.
That said, although we need to temper our expectations...for the sake of our own sanity, we can't let THIS team think or feel that way. We need to make THEM believe, that WE believe. Because for hockey players, this is the "universal dream". As a player you must believe with all of your heart that you CAN and WILL be THE team that stands alone in the limelight at the end of the playoffs.
I believe this team has something special. Whether or not it is enough to carry them *all the way* in the playoffs can only be determined in the coming weeks. I just hope the second chapter of this season is as much fun as the first.
So now it's time to "get on with the fascination" of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!