It seems only fitting that the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators is going seven games, because it has already felt like the longest playoff series in NHL history. Between the trapping and reviews and whistles, it makes sense that this series will last as long as possible.
The only thing we know for sure about Game 7 on Thursday night is it will take four overtimes and the winning goal will be decided after an 11-minute review for goaltender interference.
And it will probably be 2-1 or 1-0.
So how should you, the Penguins fan petrified of losing to a team so boring that even its own fans won’t fill the building for a conference final Game 6, prepare for a night that will test both your nerves and ability to stay awake? That’s a great question, because you can never be too careful when getting ready for a Game 7.
What follows is a survival kit for Penguins fans that will be watching the game on TV. If you’re going to the game, you get nothing, because if you’re going to be that close to the epicenter of potential pain, there isn’t much that’s going to help you if the Senators are posing with the Prince of Wales Trophy in your building.
Here is what the rest of you will need:
1. A television
You can’t watch the game on TV without a TV. Or a computer. Or a tablet. Or a phone. From what I hear, millennials are “cord cutters” so they watch shows on things other than a TV.
Scotch, vodka, beer, wine, hard lemonade, Zima. Whatever you can find. It doesn’t hurt to beat the rush and get to the store Wednesday. If you wait until the last second and go Thursday evening, it’s going to look like the grocery store when a huge storm is moving in. All that will be left on the shelves is a six-pack of Old Milwaukee and two stray bottles of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita. (Editor’s note: Penguins prefer Bud Ice.)
This is the most important purchase, because you’ll want it nearby no matter the outcome of Game 7.
3. Ice cream
If you don’t drink, you’ll need something to bring you comfort. A pint of ice cream is like Marc-Andre Fleury — a nice backup that can carry you for short stretches when nothing else is available.
Much like the alcohol and ice cream, pizza is a tremendous food for easing pain/maximizing joy. Plus, when you vomit after the fourth overtime, you’d like to have some consistency, unlike the officiating in the postseason.
This seems obvious. You want to be as relaxed as possible. Especially in between periods when Mike Milbury is blaming the Penguins being down a goal because Sidney Crosby “isn’t as tough” as Bobby Ryan or something.
I can’t get past this.
How is this acceptable in this age where we are pay so much attention to head injuries?
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) May 24, 2017
But you need the second pillow for a much more important function — something to scream into. This game is on a work/school night, so screaming profanities at 10:15 p.m. because Pierre McGuire is constantly describing everything as “the new five-hole,” you want to avoid a citation from local police for a noise violation.
The second pillow is closely related to the next important item.
6. A working mute button
Let’s face it — there’s a chance the Penguins lose this game. Senators coach Guy Boucher is going to turn this into a slopfest, which means a weird bounce could decide the game. That bounce has just as good a chance of going off Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s butt as it does Jake Guentzel’s crotch. Brace for the worst, hope for the best.
But if things are bleak, you want to mute McGuire and Doc Emrick. The only thing worse than watching your favorite team eliminated is having it narrated by Captain Junior Hockey and Admiral AHL Birthday Man. If the Penguins are down three goals with four minutes remaining, the last thing you want to hear after every failed zone entry is, “DocandEddie, that’s Zack Smith clogging the neutral zone, and he played his junior hockey at…” or “Oh my! Ricochets off the post! Like a home run by Sid Bream down the right field line that ricochets off the foul pole, only that’s a home run and this isn’t a goal!”
Mute. Think of it as a morphine injection when the pain gets to be too much.
Speaking of injections…
7. An adrenalin needle
Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction? That, only instead of your heart stopping because of a heroin overdose, you will need that injection to the heart after the 25 minutes of Senators hockey.
This is only if you watch the game alone, which I do not recommend. You will almost definitely require John Travolta (or a friend) to stab you in the heart with an adrenalin needle.
9. Trail mix
Just because. It’s nice to have. Everyone likes trail mix.
10. A phone
This is the last, but most important, thing to have in case the Penguins lose. Because if you’re a Penguins fan — and I hate to be the one to break this to you — people hate you. Chances are, some of those people are in your lives. They are Flyers fans, most likely. So it’s very important you keep your phone nearby for all those texts and tweets from people that will surely want to stick it to you.
Have your responses ready. Photos of Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel raising the Cup last year. Evgeni Malkin holding the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2009. Images of every handshake line involving the Flyers the past three decades. Screenshots of this year’s standings that feature the Flyers outside of the playoffs.
Because even if the Penguins lose, remember that at least you don’t root for the Flyers.