For this year’s NHL playoffs, I’m not particularly cheering for one specific team as the local team here in this city played terrible in the regular season and failed to qualify for post-season play. That hasn’t happened since 2008. Since then, every spring, I’ve followed the local team in the playoffs, sharing their high and inevitable lows, culminating in the lowest of lows, a game seven loss in the finals in 2011. I sometimes wonder why people follow sports because it usually ends in heartache as many teams vie for a championship and only one team comes out on top.
So this spring has been quite different. There are no games to schedule my evenings around. There are no cancelled engagements because it conflicts with a playoff game. People, myself included, are going about their business, their emotions not tied to a game they have no control over. It’s rather refreshing actually.
Tonight was just another example of this freedom from sport. This evening, there were three game sevens, the deciding games in the first round of the playoffs. Three teams would advance while three others would go home. That also meant that three fanbases would be jubilant while three others would be suffering varying degrees heartache. By the end of the evening, there sure was heartache for some fans. For the Colorado and Minnesota game, it went into sudden death overtime. A game seven that goes into OT guarantees one city is gonna come out feeling terrible. One lucky bounce and it’s over. There’s no way to feel good about a game seven OT loss because it’s essentially a coin toss. Tonight, the fans in Colorado lost the coin toss.
Between Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, it was more of a normal game. The Rangers won 2-1 in regulation time. A close game for sure, but the Rangers staked themselves to a 2-0 lead and held on for the win. Philly fans might feel bad but it’s not the end of the world.
The worst feeling of the evening is reserved for fans in the San Jose area. Tonight, the Sharks entered into the seventh and deciding game against the LA Kings after having a 3-0 lead in the series. Let me state that again, they won the first three games of the series and only needed to win one more game to advance. Instead, they lost three straight games to put themselves into the situation they faced tonight. In this game, they got blown out, losing 5-1. In the process they became just the fourth team in NHL history to lose a playoff series after leading 3-0. I can’t even imagine what Sharks fans are feeling tonight. This is coming from someone who follows the Canucks, a team that has a long, long history of ineptitude. I don’t even know how you process a loss like that if you’re a Shark fan.
I am so relieved that I was just an impartial observer tonight. I ate my dinner, saw the scores, and went on with my evening. It was kinda nice.