What It Takes To Win
By Jen (Jan Snyder's daughter!)
Last year, the Pens and the Red Wings met in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. And while the Pens had an amazing run through the post season and seemed like they were almost invincible, the Red Wings were too much for our young and inexperienced team (at least in the finals anyway) and we lost a heartbreaking Game 6 on Mellon Arena ice. As our team left the ice in defeat, the Red Wings hoisted the Cup in triumph. It was almost too much to take.
A few weeks later, my favorite band, Journey, released a new album. One of the songs on that album, “What It Takes To Win” really struck a chord with me. After the exhilarating playoff run and gut-wrenching loss, it was the perfect song - although I didn’t realize how perfect until this year’s playoffs.
Through the opening line to the end of the song, I could visualize the entire Pens’ 2007-2008 season. In my mind I could put an entire montage of moments together that would fit right along with the lyrics - especially moments from the Playoffs.
The first verse goes something like this:
Day has come,
electricity in the air.
Feel the calm,
feel the rush,
you want to leave victorious.
When you look in their eyes,
they want you gone,
they want to take the prize.
I could just imagine flashes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal or Max Talbot getting ready to take the opening face off in the elimination game of the series - flashing from them to the various Red Wing centers who would take the draw against them.
The second verse is a run of the clichés that we all hear during these great sporting events...
Seal the deal,
get it done.
Earn the right to say you’ve won.
Work it out,
someone’s gonna have to pay the price.
Face to face,
stand your ground,
stay in the zone,
now don’t back down.
More than pride,
fighting hard until the very end.
During this verse I think of Ryan Malone taking a puck in the face, the “Sacrifice” t-shirts the Pens wore proudly last year and “the shift” by Brooks Orpik - you know, the one where he checked the Wings players five times in about 20 seconds.
But the most prophetic verse is the chorus and I did not understand its full meaning until this playoff year...
When you learn to lose.
You know what it takes to win.
Wanna go the distance with a hunger that never ends.
When you want to prove, you’re the best there’s ever been.
They can knock you down, you’re on your feet again,
‘cause you know what it takes to win.
Last season, losing to Detroit in Game 6 for the Cup was devastating. But it taught the Pens and the fans what it takes to win. We were knocked down in Game 5 against the Flyers, down 3-0 in the second period. If the Pens lost, their season was over. But they got back up and rallied to beat the Flyers and moved on to the Capitals. We were down in that series too. Coming back home for Game 3, the Caps were up 2-0 in the series but because we knew what it took to win, we were able to overcome that too and moved on to Carolina.
We kept the hunger going against the Canes and swept that series to face our foes in Detroit once again for the Cup. That series didn’t start too well either. Down 2-0 in the series, the Pens won Games 3 and 4, had a terrible and forgettable Game 5, then rallied in Game 6 to force Game 7. That’s when last year’s loss, turned into knowing how to win and the Pens were able to hang on to win the Cup and prove they are the best.
So for the conclusion of my montage, I see the last second effort of the puck fluttering along the goal line last year, but staying out. I see the Wings celebrating the win and the Pens hanging their heads. I see a shot of one of the Pens wearing this year’s playoff t-shirt that said, “Ya Hungry?” I see the last-second save on Lidstrom by a diving Fleury in Game 7, and the Pens celebrating with the Cup.
I see the 375,000 Pittsburgh fans lining the streets for the victory parade. Then as the song ends, I see a fade-out of Sid the Kid raising the Cup proudly above his head, proving the Pens are the best and that they learned what it takes to win.