|Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar|
Playoff hockey, am I right?
There's something about playoff hockey that rivals no other sport. It's at least 60 fast-paced minutes of gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, anxiety-inducing physical play that makes you feel like you just ran a marathon when it's over. Depending on the outcome, you may curse the Pens for putting you through this. Even when it's not your team playing, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game. Sharks/Predators anyone?
And overtime? Don't even talk to me about that. You budgeted out 60 minutes to freak the [expletive] out and you're not emotionally ready for an extra 20 or more minutes. The morning after Game 4, I felt like I was hungover.
All of your emotions are magnified during playoff hockey. Every hit has you on edge. You develop close, personal hatreds for the opposing players over the course of five games. Any possibility of me becoming friends with Tom Wilson or Henrik Lundqvist is dunzo.
When you watch on TV, a lot of the action is happening off-camera behind the play. You hear the crowd react and you need to know immediately if a Pen is okay or if you have to worry about a possible suspension. Then you need to see replays of the hit from every angle so you can properly analyze the situation to see what we're dealing with. When Letang hit Johansson, I spent an hour or so after the game re-watching it to decide what side of the argument I stood on. An hour. For less than one second of play.
During playoff hockey we all become a fan base of experts. Analysts. Referees. Coaches. Doctors. Reporters. Executives. Sometimes players. Because if you were playing, you definitely wouldn't have made that pass cross ice.
Tonight and possibly in Game 7, the Pens are going to put us through the ringer again. They're going to play with our emotions. Make us mad. Make us cringe. Make us curse. But also make us happy. Make us cheer. Make us joyful. And we're counting down until the puck drop and eagerly awaiting every minute of it. Because it's playoff hockey. Right?!