Thursday, April 21, 2011

sudden death in the NHL

In the epilogue to the Madness of March I write about my trip to New York to see the 7th game of the penultimate round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1994. The Devils played the Rangers in the game. The Rangers prevailed in double overtime 2-1.

Of the four major sports, hockey is my least favorite. I attended because the person I refer to as Larry Poppel (I changed the name at his request) is a lifelong friend and a serious fan of the Rangers. I had previously attended hockey games with him and his season ticket holding cohorts and it has always been an experience to do so.

That game remains, 17 years later, as the most thrilling event I have ever witnessed live. Today 17 years later, I feel for everyone of Larry's friends because last night the Rangers lost a heartbreaker of a game in double overtime to the Washington Capitals.

Those who are not fans of sport cannot understand how deflating it can be to watch your team go down in a tight contest. Last night's game was in the playoffs and the Rangers had been up 3-0 before losing the game 4-3 on a flukey goal with only a couple of minutes left in the second overtime period.

Again, I am not a hockey fan but I was riveted to the tv screen for both overtimes and most of the second and third period. I muttered a cliche at a few intervals that I've often said aloud but, except for in sudden death hockey games, I've never meant literally. After watching the Capitals and Rangers skating up and down the ice and screaming slap shots that could end the game instantly, I found myself saying, "I don't know how much more of this I can take."

The folks I've met in Larry Poppel's section on the occasions I've been to Madison Square Garden have been unable to focus today. Nevertheless, not one of them would argue with the contention that there is nothing in sport more exciting than a sudden death game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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