Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playoff Mode

Since the beginning of April I have been in playoff mode.  I mean I'm in a heart-racing, hair-pulling, nail-biting, stomach-churning, ready-to-puke, state of being.  For non-sport fans, I know this sounds ridiculous.  However, I invest so much into hockey, I guess this is inevitable for me.  And I'm just hoping that this continues until the middle of June.

The first weekend in April found us attending the first two games of the Rangers playoff run.  Unfortunately, they really didn't have a run, as they were swept in three games--which ended their season.  While there usually is a 'there's always next year' attitude when a team is eliminated, this is not the case for the Rangers.  Two weeks after the playoffs were over for the team, it was announced that it was sold.  Not only is the team under new ownership next year, but it is being moved from here to Flint--a 6-8 hour drive from us.  And so my love-affair with a team I can see in person has ended.  Unfortunately, there is no other team around that comes close to where the Rangers are in terms of hockey league/s hierarchy--we have no other junior teams around.  For us, we would have to step down a level or two, in terms of skill level, or go to the local college team.  Now, it wouldn't be too bad to move on to the college level, but we have a difficult time sitting in the arena.  When the arena was built, it was done so with the intention of seating the most amount of people in the smallest space possible--and this completely did away with any thoughts for the comfort of the fans.  The seats/rows are so close together that I--at 5'0"--have a hard time finding leg room.  That is sad.  And so, we no longer have a hockey home.

The news of the sale of the Rangers was NOT all that surprising--it has been a well-known 'secret' for the entire four years the team has been here.  Rumor has it that the owner bought the team so that his son would have a team to play on--which he did.  This year, the son aged out of juniors and that gave the father/owner no need to continue with the team.  Whether or no this is true, it is what most people believe.  I'm sure it was a big reason for the sale, as I'm sure there was not any money to be made in only four year's time.  It's too bad that the team wasn't given more of a chance to establish itself.  Oh well, at least I have three 'collectible' jerseys in my possession. 

The end of the season for the Red Wings was a nail-biter for all of us fans.  While it finally was apparent that they WOULD make the playoffs--which was not certain at the Olympic break--it was not determined just where they would be in the standings until the last few games.  And at fifth spot, they wound up playing the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round.  Inconsistent play--along with those absolutely, not-able-to-win-at-all Sunday afternoon games--brought the Wings to game seven of a best-of-seven series last night.  And thankfully the playoff, STFU Red Wings that we all know and love decided to show up for the game.  They beat the Coyotes 6-1 in a game that was almost embarrassing for the 'Yotes.  It kind of showed them that they aren't quite able to play with the big boys just yet.  And it showed, despite what the statistics were during the year, that there is not a team in the NHL that can beat the Wings if they are healthy and focused.  As long as they can avoid injuries and continue to 'bring it' every game, I know they can make it to the finals for a third year in a row.  Will that happen?  I am a perpetual pessimist, so I say 'no,' but anything can happen in playoff hockey.  And I will continue working at making myself a bleeding ulcer--hopefully till the middle of June.  :D

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