Let's make one thing clear. My indictment of the entertainment value of Game 6 has nothing to do with the fact that it carried a 0-0 score late into the third period. I'm thoroughly capable of enjoying a low scoring contest as long as quality hockey is being played, and the clinching game of a series whose previous goal differentials bared more shocking disparities than the 'before' and 'after' pictures on infomercials was not short on action.
Unfortunately, that action was tarnished by the untimely tweet of a whistle that could not be forgotten for what ultimately ended up amounting to two-thirds of a hard fought elimination game. Each minute that passed between this play...
...and this play...
...was responsible for a growth in the pit of the stomach of every uninvested hockey fan that didn't want to see the greatest championship in all of sports decided by an instinctual exhale from an overanxious official. Unlike most people, I didn't mind seeing the best player in the sport raise the Stanley Cup for a third time, but I would be lying if I said if I felt right about him doing so under shitty conditions that felt inevitable with how often the NHL gets in it's own way. Obviously the whistle that was more premature than the ejaculation that spawned Mike Milbury was equally as accidental and unabortable, but as soon as it was ever-so-faintly heard on the replay there was very little doubt it was going to become the lasting narrative of the night.
Watching the last two periods of that were like watching a horror movie that has an incredibly foreseeable and unsatisfying ending. Every passing scoring chance served as a fading glimmer of hope for a Predators team that was destined to have their hearts ripped out, and the aesthetically unpleasing goal that served as the predictable murder weapon made for an ending that had people leaving the proverbial theatre in disappointment. For the first time in a long time it wasn't the NHL's own ineptitude that had a disastrous effect on the outcome of the game, but that doesn't make it any easier to get past the idea that it wasn't solely decided by the players on the ice. Credit goes to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for dragging a young team to the promised land while playing in front of a stack of human parking cones, but - man, oh man - as much as the Penguins and their fans would disagree, glory doesn't get more gloomy than that.
P.S. Obviously the Predators are deserving of sympathy, but - if only for today - it's their fans who I am truly worried about. Two months of playoff hockey in a party city that ends in dubious, depressing fashion late on a Sunday night? You've never experienced that level of scaries. I have had some shitty, shitty Mondays, but a pounding headache is nothing compared to crushed dreams and hands that reek of dead catfish.