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The Anatomy Of A Playoff Loss

Some thoughts on a playoff loss and the emotions that surround it.


I wrote a story before the playoffs started about, well ... the playoffs. Ironically enough, I touched on something that kind of happened last night.

I say this all the time: You don't enjoy a playoff hockey game. You might look back on a game and say, "oh that was an amazing game," but in the moment it's nothing but an horrifying blend of emotions. The best example was the Rangers' 2-1 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For those who don't remember, Brad Richards tied the game with 6.6 seconds left, and Marc Staal won the game in overtime with a blast from the point. My emotions ranged from excitement (at the beginning of the game), to anger (as the Rangers entered the third period down 2-1), to more anger, to disbelief (the Rangers took close to 45 shots on goal before Richards scored), to pure jubilation (the tying goal), to nervous (the intermission between the third and overtime) to disbelief again (when Staal scored) and then absolute celebration. All that in a span of three hours. You don't get that in the regular season. You invest differently in the playoffs.

The point of that entire paragraph is the last line. You invest differently in the playoffs.

I like to think I take playoff losses well. At least externally. Internally my mind is always racing, win or lose. A lot of that has to do with this space. I'm always thinking about things to write, ideas to contemplate, things I saw that might be worth your time, how to keep you all happy, what you're all feeling and keeping the staff in check (Evan is more difficult to handle than you probably think). So mentally, I'm always moving. My emotions range from each extreme all the time. What this place has done is help level me out. Whether it's my giant ego or the truth, I get my emotions in order by reminding myself I owe it to you guys to provide you with even-keeled analysis on this team. Initially I might jump off the cliff, but it only takes a minute or two for the mental bungee cord to rip me back to reality.

I never talk trash, ever. Oh sure, I make snippy comments about my own team, but that's to my own fans. That's different in my mind. I never talk trash to an opposing team's fanbase. I just don't see the point. I don't play the games, I don't have the right to chirp. If someone is chirping me and I feel the need to say something that's a little different too. But I'll never do it unprovoked. This will make sense in a minute.

When the Rangers lose - especially when they lose a game like that - I value one thing and one thing only. Silence. I want silence. I want everything to stop and just be quiet. I don't want sympathy, I don't want gloating, I don't want anything. I want to close my eyes and hear nothing. My office had a half day on Friday. On the day before a holiday or holiday weekend my office allows 90% of the staff to leave at 1 p.m. and then has a skeleton crew work until 3 p.m. I volunteered myself to work skeleton. Not because I wanted to do more work, but because it would be quiet.

I need time to decompress. I need to let the toxins flow out of my body. It's sick, but it's true. This is how I hand a playoff loss. When something bad happens to the Rangers I read as much as I can about the loss. I soak everything in. I read every article, I watch ever video and I listen to every talking head. Then I stop. Then I need silence. Then I write, and that helps a lot, too.

It's just how I process everything. In today's day and age you can read something new about your favorite team every minute of every day. There are a million Rangers blogs out there (but only one good one :) ), at least 20 different beat reporters, national guys who sometimes write things about the team, a bunch of different NHL based websites and more. It's why Blueshirt Banter exists at all. There's a market for this kind of stuff. People can't get enough of sports. Period.

So I take it in, ball up all my emotions, and let them out. Then I take a deep breath and suddenly things are more clear.

Walking out of The Garden Thursday sucked. There's no way around it. You go from such an emotional high to such an emotional low. It would be like climbing to the top of Mount Everest only to lose your footing near the peak and then fall to the bottom of Challenger Deep. (Challenger Deep is one of the deepest known points on Earth. I find these natural things Really interesting. If you want to learn more about it, click here. It's worth your time.) There's no other way to describe it. You either get it or you don't.

The good news? The Rangers took the loss way better than most of the fans . They understood that sometimes bad bounces happen and that you simply need to re-group and move on. They're playing the game, though, so it's probably a little easier for them to see. No one should have expected a sweep, even if the team was up 2-0 coming back to New York.

The Rangers are a team that doesn't quit. Last night's fight to get the game to overtime should prove that to you. The Rangers have an opportunity to take a strangle hold on the series Sunday. They need to take advantage. We've seen what they can do when their backs are against the wall, well, they better feel like their backs are against the wall on Sunday.

Because to be honest, I don't want to need the silence.