Sunday, April 13, 2008

Better Than a Birthday

I've always wondered how some people don't like hockey, especially during the playoffs. Between the fans/the atmosphere and the spirit the players show, it's one of my favorite times of the year. So, instead of writing my English paper on existentialism (I mean really, I basically don't even know what that is), I'm going to sit here and write about why the playoffs push the boundaries of awesomeness.

Now, I have had a few encounters with people who just aren't interested in hockey. At the Wild-Avalanche playoff game Friday, everyone was standing up and cheering throughout the game (obviously), but there was a row of older people behind me who didn't seem quite as excited to be there. Whenever we'd stand up, they would say ("to themselves," but loud enough for us to hear) that they wished the people in front would sit down. One of the men also was plugging his ears during introductions. Of course, being the nice person I am, this just made me stand up more and cheer louder. I also am related to some non-hockey lovers; one such person being my younger sister. She never wants to come to the games with us (she would rather be shopping), forgets the name of her "favorite player", and asked me on the way home once whether we won or not. Now I love my sister, but she pains me sometimes. Sadly, I do not believe that even playoff hockey can cure these lost hockey-less souls.

Maybe it's just because I'm so invested in hockey and love the game so much that I don't understand why others don't. I've managed to turn many of my friends into hockey fans (and not just by showing them cute players, although that works sometimes too). End-to-end action, some of the nicest guys in pro sports, spectacular fans, and games that can change momentum in a second...what's not to love? The playoffs only solidify my obsession over the sport.

The crowd was rocking on Friday night and the shouts continued into the streets after the game. My voice was a mere rasp the next day, and I don't lose my voice very often. It's impossible not to have fun at playoff games. The Xcel stepped it up a notch, too. Free towels for all and a multitude of amusing videos on the Jumbotron. All video was also projected onto the ice surface, which was very cool.

The heart the players show during the playoffs is also phenomenal (well, most of them). The latest occurrence of this on the Wild are in the form of four players: Kurtis Foster, Nick Schultz, Martin Skoula, and Branko Radivojevic (who I will call Radio for the rest of the post). Kurtis Foster got his femur broken March 19 in San Jose (it was gross) and is on the start of a long road to full recovery. But he somehow managed to get himself from his house to the press box to do the "Let's Play Hockey" for Friday night's game (video here.) As for Nick Schultz, he went through an emergency appendectomy right before the playoffs started, which was a huge blow to our blueline. But he has begun skating and has said that if we need him late in the series, he will try to play. Martin Skoula, probably the most ridiculed player on the Wild, injured his leg in Game 1, but suited up for Game 2. Not only did he play one of his best games all season, but laid out a huge hit. Radio was hit in the first period of Friday's game was obviously hurting when he left the ice. He returned for some shifts in the second and third period however, and gutted it out. He is trying not to let the injury bother him and has flown to Denver to possibly gut out another game. Players play through so much in the playoffs and it really shows the heart that it takes to carry your team through.

So, in summary, I love the playoffs.
Now, what are your favorite playoff features/memories? Leave them in the comments!

1 comment:

Lucky13 said...

I personally have a love/hate relationship with the playoffs. The side that I lean to is mostly determined by the team that is playing the Rangers. In the current case, in which they are facing the devils, I am on an emotional roller coaster ride. My boys have flashes of brilliance intertwined with moments of "wtf just happened???" I do, however, love to see the players supporting eachother just a little bit more than usual, celebrating each goal more enthusiastically. The World Series can't hold a candle to the Stanley Cup playoffs.