Can it really be just two weeks ago that we were basking in the glow of "the $4 million goal" that capped an almost unthinkable come-from-behind series win and preparing for the circus to come to town? (And what a circus it's been, complete with a ring master, acrobats, interesting animal acts, sideshows and, of course, plenty of clowns.)
Now, as we ready for the grand finale, we wonder what could possibly top what we've seen thus far - as close a series as one could imagine, with the stars leading the way (Alex Ovechkin's 13 points are a single-series high since before the lockout) and role players, well, playing their roles.
Will a new hero (or goat) emerge, or will the best player on the planet write yet another chapter in his already expansive book of greatness?
Will the game so overflow with excitement, tension and drama that sixty minutes simply won't be able to contain it?
Will the home ice advantage - a deafening sea of red - that made mid-winter games against division rivals worth fighting for provide the difference-making push when the tank is nearly on empty?
We wonder what's next (and last) in this truly epic series, how fittingly to cap this Greatest Show on Ice... and then we realize that we don't care. At all. That is, of course, so long as the right team wins.
As storybook as a Sergei Fedorov breakaway tally in overtime would be, we'll take a Shaone Morrisonn double-deflection past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 4-0 late in the second period that puts the rest of the night on cruise control. As legend-building as another Simeon Varlamov stick save with a one-goal lead in the final minute of regulation would be, we'll certainly take a rocking chair night for the young netminder with nary a tough save to be made.
The first six games of this series have been more than any fan of the game could have realistically hoped for, and have led up to a marquee moment for the sport. But whether tonight's a Picasso or a P.O.S., we could care less as long as the guys in red end up with more goals than the guys in white. It's as simple as that. Win tonight - for the
33 seasons 95 games that came before it. Just win.