I am writing this in advance of my team’s fourth (and potentially final) game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I am by no means admitting defeat, in any way shape or form, of my beloved Canucks to the San Jose Sharks.
Today, I am here to confess that I am a hockey instigator. In no way do I claim to know all about hockey, rather the opposite. However, I am no slouch. I know teams, most relevant stats, player statuses and rumours inside and out. It is this knowledge that becomes my best friend and mortal enemy during playoff season. You see, I am not what one would call a “silent spectator”. Sure, I watch games in relative silence, I enjoy the peace, for goodness sakes we all know I have to watch the first period of a regular season game on mute! Playoff hockey brings out the Jekyll in me. I am a raging, high-strung, stressed-out, heart-racing, clawing-at-my-jersey, monster. A monster. There, I said it.
This can best be exemplified by my actions last Friday evening. I was having a girls day out, ending of course in time for puck drop to go spend the evening with my boys. We watched Ottawa and Montreal play, Montreal winning 3-1, and I convinced the keeper of the remote to play the Vancouver-San Jose game immediately after. Down after 20 minutes, Ryan Kesler (Kes-lord to you plebes), strapped the Canucks on his back to score twice in the third, ensuring a Canucks win, with a minute left to play, right? Wrong. Patrick Marleau, ever invisible, scored the game-tying-goal at 19:04 in the final frame.
Now, until this point, I was quiet. Occasionally looking skyward, praying to the hockey gods for a goal or four to break the opposing goalie’s Berlin Wall-esque demeanour. There were a few groans on bad hockey plays, and a few instances of shouting at the TV while the boys looked on at me in disbelief. I only acutely resembled this guy, I swear!
At 19:04 of the third, everything changed. I made the quick decision to split, immediately. Forcing myself to bust-my-butt to get home for the start of overtime (OT). I explained to the boys that I did not want them to see me “that way”, and scurried out the door. You see, OT makes me freak out. The sit in a corner of my room, rock back and forth and repeat “come on boys” kind of freak out. I am a mess when it comes to sudden-death overtime, why? Because that’s it. That’s all she wrote. No re-dos, no play out the rest of the period, that’s it. Your goose is effectively cooked, and being down 2-0 in a series is never, ever a good thing, even worse when your next two games of a seven game series are in the other team’s house. Last Friday, I made it home for OT. I loaded up a stream in time to hear iron ring and pray to God that puck hit the post a few inches inside the bar, and not out. God did not answer those prayers. A minute later, the Sharks scored, the game was over and my team is headed for what many feel is a second consecutive ousting in the first round of the playoffs.
Losing did not sting as badly as it should have. Losing in OT, when your team out hustled, out hit and out shot the winners is the stinger. This, friends, is hockey heartbreak, and this is why I am writing this today, ahead of game four, down 0-3 in the series with supposedly no hope left. Friday night was heartbreak night, Sunday was time to be enthused and hopeful for 40 minutes, and then watch your team implode night. I have hope. There will be a game 5, at least. There has to be, because if not, I have to hear it from my “friends”, the Leafs fans, in particular, who after 9 years of ridicule, shame, and constantly cheering for a team who fails to live up to expectations, they will seek their revenge.