No matter how you look at it, today is a very, very fun day. The first day of the playoffs gives you that feeling of excitement you know but can’t quite describe. Even when your team is not involved, we all know what is at stake when a seven game series opens up and just how intense the ride gets.
Think of the ups and downs of a regular season. Then cram all of those nerves and pressure into 7 games in under two weeks. Add in overtime hockey and the most intense hatred for an opponent you can imagine and you’re almost there. For this round, multiply it all by eight.
That’s playoff hockey, and if that’s something you would be interested in I would recommend you stick around for a while.
Of course, this year is going to sting a bit. For the first time since the Lockout the Sabres won’t be involved in the postseason, and for some newer fans this will be an interesting feeling. However, even with the hometown team out you simply can’t ignore playoff hockey. Watching these games, the ones that really count, will tell you more about yourself then you would think.
Watching a game you don’t have any particular rooting interest in does wonders for your perspective on the sport of hockey itself. The best byproduct of this is that you will really learn to love the game itself. When you watch good hockey you notice the little things, the passes you don’t always see, the elegance of a rush up ice. Having a “side” in games sometimes blinds you to good plays, shaky calls, and nice saves you would otherwise miss with your perception muddled in worry and bias.
It sounds a bit silly, but playoff hockey is truly the best of the best, and you can’t really know hockey until you’ve seen the postseason. How can you talk of fatigue if you’ve never seen a triple overtime game on opening night? How does a fan better grasp the highs and lows of a season without watching others cope with emotions you’ve felt so many times before? What better place to find your definition of “clutch” then where it matters most?
The playoffs are, well, awesome. “The spectacular grind”, if you will. So even today when I wake up knowing my team is long gone, I can’t help but get that nervous bit of excitement in the pit of my stomach. The playoffs are here, and no matter who’s playing for the next two months, I doubt I’ll be able to look away.