I clearly remember a Phillies game from September 23, 2005 when David Bell hit a go ahead two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Reds in Cincinnati. They entered the inning trailing 10-6 and scored five in the ninth and hung on to win it 11-10.
What does a regular season baseball game from almost five years ago have to do with tonight's Flyers/Sabres Game Seven?
Well, when the ball Bell hit cleared the fence, I jumped out of my seat and started deliriously screaming to my future wife "THIS IS WHY I WATCH SPORTS! THIS IS WHY I WATCH SPORTS!" I couldn't contain myself. The payoff that moment provided made my investment in watching and caring about the team worthwhile. It was one of those rare instances where a game literally moved me.
Which then brings us to tonight. Game Seven.
It's cliche, but there is nothing like a playoff hockey Game 7. The animosity and hatred you develop for an opposing hockey team over a long series is unparalleled. I mentioned something similar in my ode to Sami Kapanen, but it never gets old.
I can't take Nathan Gerbe and his annoying tiny presence. I've had enough of Tyler Myers cross-checking guys after the whistle. I am done thinking of Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani every single time an announcer says Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Patrick Kaleta? Done with him. Rob Niedermayer inexplicably scoring goals? Done with it. Lindy Ruff's black tie on black shirt combo? Come on, man.
And you know what? I wouldn't trade that hate for anything. It's the best. It's the reason I tracked down my air card and convinced my wife to drive to dinner on Sunday so I could watch the NBC stream of the game on my laptop. In a moving car.
Every single thing is magnified in a Game 7. Every turnover, every failed clearing attempt, every questionable icing call, every faceoff, every line change. It all matters.
The Flyers have been playing hockey since 1967. They've played just 14 Game 7's. They're 8-6 in those games. Their two most recent Game 7's have been unforgettable. In the event you aren't already completely fired up for tonight here's some video to get your blood pumping.
First, here's Joffrey Lupul's Game 7 OT winner from the 2007-08 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals.
Take a look back at The700Level reactions to that one.
Next, as if you needed any reminder, here's a recap of last season's Flyers/Bruins Game 7.
I am fortunate enough to have a ticket to the game, and will be experiencing my first Game 7 in person. Regardless of where you're watching the game tonight, take a second and appreciate that nervous, anxious, pit-in-the-bottom-of-your-stomach feeling.
It's Game Seven.
Photo Credit: Ed Hille/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT