- Scott Burnside, NHL
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PHILADELPHIA -- When the puck drops in Wednesday's Game 6, the Stanley Cup will be in the building, shone to a brilliant luster. The storyline is brutally simple: A Chicago win will end a 49-year Stanley Cup drought. Or a Philadelphia win will push this series to a Game 7 on Friday night.
But between now and then, thousands of words will have been spoken about what may or may not happen Wednesday night. Scientific studies have concluded the closer a Cup finals series moves to its conclusion, the less meaning the words carry. It is often called The Theorem of Cliché Chaos.
But fear not, faithful readers. We are here to help sift through the words offered up like so many gusts of wind in the hours before Game 6 and provide the real meaning behind them:
What was said: Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger was asked about a poster placed in the Chicago Tribune, which showed him in a figure skater's outfit with the caption: "Chrissy Pronger: Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane." His response: "I don't read what you guys write, good or bad. I really couldn't care less, to be honest with you. I'm worried about playing the game."
What he meant: "There is no way there's a figure-skating outfit anywhere that will fit me, let alone in Chicago. Not that I don't have the legs for it. Let's see how Dustin Byfuglien would look in that get-up. Ha!"
What was said: Pronger, winner of a Cup in 2007 and a loser in the 2006 finals, on the Cup being in the building for Game 6: "Yeah, I think we know what we're up against. They're obviously trying to close this out, and we're trying to get to a Game 7. I think everybody in the locker room understands what's at stake and what we need to do."
What he meant: "Do you know what I've been doing with all those pucks I've been taking? I've been knitting a puck vest for Byfuglien and Ben Eager, but don't tell them. I want it to be a surprise for them after we get tired of celebrating our Cup win at the United Center on Friday night."
What was said: Philadelphia netminder Michael Leighton on getting pulled in Game 5 after giving up three goals on 13 shots in the first period: "I talked to [Flyers coach Peter Laviolette]. He wasn't really disappointed in the way I played. He was disappointed in the way the team played. He told me he did it to shake up the team, and obviously for me, there's a few things I would have changed. But me and [goaltending coach Jeff Reese] went over some videos. There were some good things, some not-so-good things, just like the first game. Just got to take the positives and erase the negatives."
What he meant: "I was a bit concerned that when Peter was telling me he wasn't disappointed in my play, his nose was growing, but I think it was just the lighting in his office. As for the video tape, Jeff Reese and I both agreed I was solid right through the end of the anthem and during several television timeouts."
What was said: Laviolette was asked about Leighton after pulling his starting netminder twice in the Cup finals: "I'm very confident in Michael. He's played excellent in the playoffs. His home numbers are terrific. Yeah, I'm very confident in Michael."
What he meant: "I'm very confident in the Good Michael. The Good Michael, we like very much. The Bad Michael? Not so much. But generally speaking, the Bad Michael only appears in Chicago. Or Montreal. So that's a good thing. If we get to Game 7, we will be considering an exorcism or maybe hypnosis. Acupuncture?"
What was said: Pronger on whether Chicago's line changes befuddled the Flyers in Game 5: "I don't think it really mattered who they had matched up. We didn't play very well."
What he meant: "Did you notice how tall I am and how many big words I know? I love the media."
What was said: Ville Leino on what it means to have the Stanley Cup in the building for Game 6 (he was in the same position with Detroit last season, when the Wings were up 3-2 in their series against Pittsburgh): "Obviously, they [the Blackhawks] can probably taste it a little bit and some of the guys are probably planning their celebration and Stanley Cup party already a little bit in their minds. It's not an easy mental state. It's a tough thing to handle, and hopefully we'll be better handling that."
What he meant: "I'm going to slip color pictures of the Stanley Cup under the Blackhawks' hotel room doors tonight with an ancient Finnish curse written on the back. But don't tell anyone. Do you know where they're staying, by the way?"
What was said: Claude Giroux, who has a number of family members and friends visiting from his hometown of Hearst, Ontario, on the incredible support shown by the community: "It's special. It's going to be a big game, and a lot of people will be watching the game and it's going to be pretty exciting."
What he meant: "Do you know how hard it is to find a poutine stand in Philly? Guess this means I'm now bigger than Pierre LeBrun in Hearst. Forget the Stanley Cup; that's real pressure."
What was said: Laviolette discussing his Carolina Hurricanes' failure to win the Cup in Games 5 and 6 in 2006 before closing out Edmonton in Game 7 back in Raleigh: "It was nauseating. I went back to the hotel room in Edmonton and I almost threw up. To be close, to have an opportunity. ... Game 5 wasn't much better. We were winning, they tied it up late. We went on the power play in overtime and they scored on a shorthanded goal in our building with the Cup being polished out back. So that one wasn't much better. So, I mean, you keep fighting. You keep fighting for it. One thing this team really has proven is they're capable of fighting. We'll be ready to do that tomorrow."
What he meant: "I actually felt pretty nauseous, too, after watching the tapes of Game 5 from Sunday night. But I got a cold compress and now I feel pretty good. I'm hoping we give [Hawks coach] Joel Quenneville a good case of nausea tomorrow night. I'm going to leave an air-sickness bag on the Blackhawks' bench."
What was said: Jeff Carter, who has scored one goal into an empty net in this series, on whether his injured foot is bothering him: "It hasn't, no."
What he meant: "No, my foot is fine. Actually, it's my hands that are missing. Ha, ha. Get it? I can't score, so it's my hands that are hurting. Or is it my heart? As you can see, I haven't lost my wicked sense of humor. At least I still have that going for me."
What was said: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was asked how often the image of being handed the Cup has appeared in his mind: "It's been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs. Every time you win one game, it feels like you're going all the way to the Cup. I've said when you lose a game, it feels like your season is going to be over. It's just been such a crazy ride."
What he meant: "I hope I don't drop it."
What was said: Toews was asked about new linemate Marian Hossa, who has been on the losing side in the past two Cup finals series: "I think it's tough for him to have lost twice, but he's here now. I'm sure he has it in his heart and he believes just like the rest of us that this is it."
What he meant: "We've actually stopped talking to him when we lost Game 3 and then started making him dress in the shower after we lost Game 4. But other than that, it's business as usual for Hoss. We hardly ever think about the 'Hossa Curse,' but he can't ride with us to the rink until we win one more. Excuse me. I need to throw some salt over my shoulder now. Anyone have any garlic?"
What was said: Chicago winger Tomas Kopecky was asked about moving from a healthy scratch at the start of the playoffs to being a key member of one of the Hawks' top lines with Toews and Hossa: "Right now, we have a great chance, and for me it was still the same. I had to work hard no matter what, ... so I don't take this opportunity lightly. I'm in the lineup. I'm going to do my best to help the team win."
What he meant: "You may have heard someone say to Spider-Man that 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I said it first, but it was in Slovakian, so no one understood me."
What was said: Kopecky, a member of the Red Wings' Cup-winning squad in 2008, was asked about the mental elements of trying to clinch the Cup: "I'm just going to prepare the same way I prepare for every other game and maybe pay a little more attention to the details. ... You have to go shift by shift."
What he meant: "I once tried to take it two shifts at a time, but I pulled my groin. Now, I just go one shift at a time."
What was said: Andrew Ladd played for Laviolette in Carolina when the Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006 and talked about not closing the deal in Games 5 and 6: "Game 6 in Edmonton, it was probably the longest flight that I've ever been on heading back to Carolina. I just remember feeling that, heading into Game 7, no one was going to beat us, that we were going to put our best effort out there. I guess having lost that opportunity in Game 6, it just made you want it that much more."
What he meant: "Laviolette made us stand up the whole way. I didn't think that was very nice. Did he mention he wanted to throw up after we lost that game? Gross."
What was said: Quenneville was asked if three teams losing at home in Game 7s this spring (Phoenix, Washington and Pittsburgh) would reinforce the need to close out this series in Game 6: "We don't want to look beyond tomorrow's game. That's our thought process."
What he meant: "Have you noticed my mustache? No way Laviolette could grow a beauty like this."
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.
We're taking it one game at a time. There's no "I" in team. An elimination game brings out the clichés, and we're breaking out our own translations of the mundane and predictable.