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Stanley Cup Scoreboard Watch: Hot-Dogs and Sadness

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Tonight's Game 5 will have the Stanley Cup in the building as the Penguins have their first chance to close the series out for their 4th championship.

Phil Kessel's back-up plan if this whole hockey thing didn't work out.
Phil Kessel's back-up plan if this whole hockey thing didn't work out.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a long, strange trip this off-season.  Maybe not quite SO strange, but at least entertaining, as we've watched teams fight tooth and nail to get to where the Sharks and Penguins are now.  And with the Sharks on the brink of elimination, down 3-1, the Pens have a chance to finally clinch a Cup at home.  Commence Penguins butt-kissing by all known media in 3... 2... 1...

LAST GAME'S RECAP

Look, I was really pulling for the Sharks in this series (as most of you could guess from my writing).  But it's tough to win when you constantly play from behind - Wings fans know all about that from this season, as we had plenty of our own troubles with starting games on-time.  It was the story yet again for Game 4 on Monday, as the Penguins scored first and kept the pressure up on San Jose.  Getting goals from Ian Cole, Evgeni Malkin, and Eric Fehr, they were able to grab a 3-1 win and 3-1 series lead.  With momentum and home-ice in their favor, it will be a tall order for the Sharks to win Game 5 and stay in this series.  The Pens are keeping the Sharks from playing the way they want to play, and while this has been a fairly tight series so far, I don't think any of this bodes well for San Jose.

TONIGHT'S ACTION

Pittsburgh Penguins vs San Jose Sharks (Game 5), 8:00PM EDT - NBC

Tonight could be the final nail in the coffin for the Sharks' season.  They've had some really stellar play up to this point, but haven't been able to come out and dominate the Penguins despite playing them pretty close.  A couple bounces could have had the Sharks up 3-1, or at least tied in this series, but the best teams find ways to make the bounces go their way.  And for all that most of us detest about the Pittsburgh squad, they have succeeded at getting the puck to bounce in their favor when the games have been close.  They've also done well with staying out of the penalty box - an absolute momentum killer for a Sharks team that has thrived with the man advantage this post-season.  When your bread-and-butter is taken away, you have to find a way to adapt and succeed - and the Sharks have not done that.

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Believe it or not, there IS a silver lining to the storm cloud of another Pittsburgh Stanley Cup victory that should probably be expected tonight.  If you're like me, it will be prety painful watching #87 hoist that beautiful silver trophy again - I've been firmly in the camp of fans who never wanted to see him touch it again after 2009.  But, if you can go in the other room to cry just for a few minutes while Sidney Crosby defiles the Hockey Holy Grail, be sure to come back in to watch Phil Kessel take his turn with it.  After everything that went down between him and the Maple Leafs, and the rejection from the USA World Cup team, it's been oddly satisfying to see him playing so well and now have the opportunity to reach hockey's promised land - even if it IS in the wrong jersey (seriously, Phil, Detroit has some EPIC FAMOUS hot-dog brands... get traded here and I'll drive you around on a Saturday for a Grand Hot-Dog Tour).  Also, we can take solace in the fact that Pittsburgh will probably have to blow this team up over the off-season as they've only managed to stay under the salary cap with a cunning combination of fast-talk, voodoo, and witchcraft.  How long is it until the NHL Awards now?