Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly Topic 1: Playoffs

I love the playoffs, and I even love them as a Minnesota fan. Perhaps especially because I am a Minnesota fan. I've decided that Minnesotans have accepted that we are a small market, and that none of our teams will probably ever be powerhouse dynasty types, but every year we remain hopeful. The phrase "hope springs eternal" was practically invented for Minnesota/Leafs fans. Playoff games bring us closer together and like someone has probably said, the atmosphere is always unbeatable.

The last time I went to a playoff game was my freshman year of high school, when the Wild were playing the Canucks. I went to games 4 and 6 of the series. These two games were probably the best two hockey games that I have ever attended in my fairly short life in that I became instant friends with hundreds of other people for at least three hours. These games appeal greatly to my social nature, and I'm a jock, meaning I like high fiving random people almost as much as I like winning.

We got to the game pretty early, but the building was already full. During game 4 they handed out flags (which I still have), and the pregame teaser on the boards elicited a thunderous roar from the crowd. I lost my voice before the game even started. I didn't sit down for the entire third period of the game. The food tasted better, the entire drive home (which I normally loathe, St. Paul is 30 long miles away, and I'm not a good car rider. Short attention span) flew by. People yelling in the streets, honking, high fiving some more. St. Paul is not normally as exciting as Minneapolis...

Game 6 was the game that we poured the hate on Bertuzzi for his comments to the fans, and it was one of the games in our epic come back from being down 3-1 for a second time. Minnesota is the only team in NHL history to come back and win two series after being down 3-1. After that game, life was one tremendous party. Most of the game I spent on my feet cheering, and it was a spectacular win. I sat in a different corner from the game previous, and I got to see Roli play twice right in front of me.

I can sit here and picture being inside the X as clearly as the day(s) it happened five years ago. I had my entire room plastered with playoff stuff, I stayed up later than I ever had watching the games and doing my homework after the games. My parents had never tolerated that kind of thing before, but they made an exception for the playoffs. All my friends and I talked about at school was the playoffs, and even the teachers would talk about hockey after the day's lesson.

Since I moved out west, the Wild have made the playoffs both years (maybe I should stay out here), but unfortunately have made early exits, robbing me of the chance to go and see them again. I have still carried on the traditions as best I can by spending hours on the phone/online with my friends who still reside in the State of Hockey trying to get every detail out of them, but I've found that it's just not the same thing as being there. I don't have the same emotion, the same level of awareness as I did when I was there.

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