Welcome to that time of year. You all know what I’m talking about. When you push away friends and family and anything else that can get in the way for about 3 hours a day, a few days a week. Where remote controllers are thrown like footballs and you yell at the T.V 100% convinced that those who you are screaming at can hear you. That’s right it’s the NHL playoffs.
There truly are few words that can describe the NHL playoffs. The stories the superstitions the history. Buildings are packed, every move is scrutinized, every call either cheered heartily or sparks a riot depending on which way it goes. Where glove saves are so much more than just a glove save, and where a little red light going off will bring a building of 18,000 to their feet quicker than Marines during roll call. Where overtime is just another excuse to have a heart attack. And where the Garden is loud enough to rival that of a 747 before the puck even drops; to the point where after the game you can’t hear anything for the next few days. Just writing about it gives me the chills.
We all have our memories of how happy the playoffs can make us. I have two. My first was when the Thrashers came into the Garden down 2-0, the Rangers first playoff wins since 1997. 20 minutes before the game started the Garden was so loud that the ceiling in the Thrashers locker room was shaking, and as the camera panned over a few of players the look on their face was utter shock and confusion. How can a building be this loud? My second was when Rozsival scored the game winner in double OT against the Sabers. I jumped into the arms of the guy next to me, whom I have never met, and he held me; which isn’t exactly an easy feat.
But the playoffs also bring despair. Like when Drury scored with 7.7 seconds left in game 5 and Afinogenov ended the game in OT. A game that had me outside sitting on a picnic table looking into the distance for hours wondering why in the hell I put myself through hell for a team that never seems to win.
But that’s what the playoff is. That’s what they do. They make hero’s out of fourth liners. Need I say more than Darren McCarty becoming Wayne Gretzky for about 7 seconds and scoring the Stanley Cup clinching goal? Or Stephane Matteau scoring two game winners in the Rangers Devils series in 1994, including his famous—never forgotten—game 7 winner in double OT?
That’s why you play the games. That’s why the playoffs are so important so huge. That’s why we watch. More tomorrow for a Game 1 preview.