Or in the case of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and their fans, the two most unnerving words in sports right now.
Things were looking pretty good when Cape Breton scored a convincing Game 4 victory at home over the Val d'or Foreurs to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven QMJHL semifinal. Most, myself included, really thought that the Eagles were going to end the series at home in Game #5 on Friday night but it was not to be as Brad Marchand's overtime goal stood up as the winner, sending the series back to Val d'or.
In Game 6 tonight at the Air Creebec Centre, Cape Breton outshot their Val d'or counterparts 44-24 but came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision. As much as it was great that the Eagles outshot their opponent by such a wide margin, most of those chances were honestly from the perimeter. Both times that Cape Breton struck in tonight's game, they allowed the Foreurs to get it back within less than a minute - totally deflating any momentum they may have gained from their tallies.
Special teams were the really glaring difference in Monday night's contest, as Val d'or went 1/4 on the powerplay and Cape Breton was shut out with the man advantage for the second straight game, going 0/5. The Eagles have not even come close to scoring a powerplay goal in either of the past two hockey games, after having so much powerplay success throughout the 2007 playoffs. If the coaching staff and players cannot find a solution to this "power outage" tomorrow, it could be "lights out" on the season.
Right now, some of Cape Breton's best players simply are not performing like their best players. Veterans like Cam Fergus, Paul McIlveen, JC Sawyer, and Oskars Bartulis have been excellent all season but seem to be going cold at the wrong time of year. The Eagles will need these key guys to turn it around tomorrow night in the winner-take-all Game 7.
As well, the Eagles absolutely HAVE to find a way to slow down Brad Marchand. He is singlehandedly killing us out there, and seems able to blow through the entire team unchecked at times. With the veteran defence corps Cape Breton has, they should be able to do a better job on this guy. Plain and simply - the Eagles have to be much more physical with Marchand.
All of that said, nothing is a disaster until that fourth game is lost. We are still just one win away from winning this series and if Cape Breton finds a way to win tomorrow night, the Game 5 and 6 losses will be forgotten soon enough. In the playoffs, momentum can shift in the blink of an eye; just look at how it happened for Val d'or thanks to the result of Game 5.
And the Eagles do have some positives to build on entering the seventh game. They outshot the Foreurs 32-15 over the final two periods, and at times Val d'or really was hanging on for dear life. If Cape Breton can pick up in Game 7 where they left off tonight with that intense play and hemming up the Foreurs in their zone, they may end up being fine. As well, the Eagles probably haven't played their best hockey in five of the six games so far (Game 4 excluded) yet the series is still tied 3-3. What happens if they happen to come out with their best hockey tomorrow night? Finally, and this may not have anything to do with the outcome of tomorrow night's game................... but for what it's worth, the road team has won all three Game 7's to have occurred thus far in the 2007 playoffs.
The key thing for players, coaching staff, and fans alike right now is to not panic. Many a Stanley Cup champion or QMJHL winner has had its back against the wall in a Game 7 somewhere along the line in their ride to glory. Some have even blown 3-1 leads along the way and still found a way to lift the Cup at the end of the day. Look no further than last season's Carolina Hurricanes, who let a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final slip through their fingers only to end up winning Game 7. Of course, they got to play Game 7 at home....... ours is on the road. But honestly, if we can only beat Val d'or once out of four tries in their building in a playoff series we do not deserve to advance to the next round.
This is the ultimate test of the resiliency and character of this Eagle hockey team, and few if any have doubted this team's mettle in those regards this season. We cannot give up on this hockey team until the final horn goes tonight. If we do, how stupid do we look if the Eagles end up winning Game 7 and going on to lift the President's Cup?
The 2007 playoffs have seen us FINALLY beat Bathurst........... FINALLY win at the KC Irving Centre............ and FINALLY break that five-year-long playoff overtime drought. All of that tells me that anything is possible.
Keep believing, guys. You may end up being glad you did.