Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And We're Going to Ooooooovertiiiiiiime!

I was going to post this in the comments section in response to Bethany's question about overtime, but it was longish so I'm making it its own post instead. This is pretty much word for word from a post I wrote in my blog, but I'm off to job number 2 and I don't have a lot of time for original thought at the moment. It is something I feel pretty strongly about though so I wanted to get something up:

Even though we lost (this is in response to the double OT game in the Sabres/Rangers series), I was reminded today that there really is nothing else in all of sports like overtime in the playoffs in the NHL. Nothing. I've mentioned before that I grew up in Alabama, not exactly a hockey-centric area. The Sabres' playoff run in 1999 was my first real dose of the NHL, and the excruciating, agonizing excitement of overtime really helped suck me into the sport. I'll never forget totally ignoring my babysitting duties during the first OT of Game Six, scooting to the edge of my seat every time the Sabres took the puck into the offensive zone and leaping up with every shot or sinking into the couch and covering my eyes every time Dallas had the puck in our zone. I'll never forget jumping in the car and breaking every speed limit between the Hamilton's house and mine in an effort to get home before the second OT started. I'll never forget the knot in the center of my stomach and the devastating suddeness of the loss. Things were going, going, going and boom! Just like that it was all over. Even though the Sabres lost, it was largely the memory of the fun and agony of that night that led me back to hockey when the next season started. Basketball's overtime scoring goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Baseball's extra innings are, with the exception of a walk-off homer, long and slow. Runners move progressively around the bases, the other team often has a chance to tie the game back up. You can see it coming. Same with football. Even though it's sudden death, play generally moves slowly down the field. Overtime hockey isn't like that. Guys fight and scrap, leaving everything they have on the ice, and with one shot, it's all over. Someone's a winner and someone's a loser. It's an amazing high when you're the winner and completely heart-breaking when you're the loser, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

In retrospect, this probably helps sum up why NBC dumping the overtime of the Buffalo/Ottawa game a few days ago upset me so much. I know that eight or so years ago, it was partly OT that made me a fan of hockey. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen in sports and I was a huge sports fan. I fear the day is coming when TV "suggests" a format change to the NHL in order to make hockey more TV schedule friendly and the NHL, not recongizing what makes it special, goes along with it. Really, really hope that day never comes.


Kate said...

As a brand new fan, (seriously, BRAND SPANKING new) I have to totally agree that overtime can grab a gals attention and then keep it on hockey.

Game 5 against the Rangers was pretty much the most fun EVER, and consequently, game five against Ottawa was shocking and devastating.

I know you guys are hardcore, and I know I sound like and idiot, but I have say, I can't get over how EXCITING hockey can be. I just had no idea. I never knew. Sorry to clutter up your comments with my nonsense, it's just that I feel like I've been drugged by hockey, and now I'm defenseless against it.

Right this minute I am watching Detroit vs. Anaheim- two cities I care nothing about!

Today I put my name on the Sabres season ticket waiting list. I'm 9,241st in line. I know I have a long way to go before I earn my stripes as a real fan, but as of now, I'm all in.


McPhizzle said...

Funny that you posted this tonight, because I was thinking about it earlier today. I even made a post in my blog earlier about the '99 "game winner." :)