Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bruins, Rangers, and Caps.

I have written this before but each April I feel like the comment is worth restating.  There is nothing more exciting than Stanley Cup hockey particularly in overtime games.

The most exciting event I have ever watched I describe in the Epilogue to the Madness of March.  It was a 2-1 double overtime in a seventh game of a Stanley Cup playoff series.  I recall thinking then of an expression that I've often used, but had never meant previously--"I don't know how much more of this I can take."

The last two nights have provided similar levels of thrill.  On Thursday night the Rangers won in overtime defeating the Montreal Canadiens.  Last night the Bruins, down 3-1 in its series, won in double overtime beating the Ottawa Senators.  For those into nationalism it was a tough two nights for those north of the border, as the Washington Capitals also won last night in overtime defeating Toronto. (The prig in me wants to know why the Capitals, who play in the Capitol, spell their nickname with an a not an o).

The thing about overtime playoff hockey is that within, literally, seconds a team can be in a position to win or immediately lose.  The rapid nature of the game is difficult to appreciate if you are only a casual spectator. During the regular season the intensity is not the same, the method for deciding winners in tied games different, and the ramifications of losing not nearly as great.

Even a minor error by a player can create an open shot for an opponent. A pass off by an inch, zigging this way instead of that, not getting off the ice fast enough for a substitution, letting the puck careen off your skate to your right or left--it is remarkable how many variables can immediately and suddenly change the outcome of a game.

Last night if the Bruins did not score the first goal in overtime its season was over. Tuukka Rask had made several incredible saves in the overtimes which kept the Bruins alive until a rookie put in the deciding goal.  What made this game even more dramatic is that twice previously in the game the Bruins had appeared to win only to have a replay disqualify the goal.

The description of the 2-1 game in the book is one of my better writing efforts. (I will opine that it was better still before the editor took the knife to several pages which I believe depicted the tension at Madison Square Garden more completely).  So, if you want to get a sense of what that event was like and a more detailed understanding of the excitement of playoff copy, go find your Madness of March and reread the Epilogue.

But if you would rather not dust it off, go watch the end of the third period of any of the hockey playoff games that are being broadcast during the next few weeks. If the game goes into overtime sit tight and hang on.

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