Friday, 17 April 2015

Keep Calm - It's the Playoffs

The NHL playoffs have arrived, and with it, so has the frenzy. The opening games were simply a nibble of what's sure to be a feast of hockey awesomeness that delights every single year. They had everything: double OT, injuries, controversy, threats, whining, one-goal games and of course, nastiness...because it's the nastiness that keeps us coming back strike after strike. Let's face it, if the NBA playoffs were half as nasty as the NHL playoffs, we the north would care much more about the Toronto Raptors.
After one game, the nastiness could not be higher between Montreal and Ottawa. Watching it unfold was beautiful and agonizing and started an emotional rollercoaster journey for Canadian hockey fans everywhere. Are your anti-depressants ready? Your Xanax within reach? Is your psychologist on speed dial? It's the playoffs, calm is a relative thing that can involve standing on your couch cushions, holding your knees and weeping, or literally pulling your hair out. All are acceptable. It's the playoffs.
In Montreal, it began with a goal that Habs fans were sure would sink their team. Their prized, homegrown defenseman, Andrei Markov scored on their even more prized goaltender. The Hamburgler seemed to be pulling off his magic and forces seemed to be siding with the Sens, just as they did in 2013. Then, suddenly hope in the form of trade deadline acquisitions emerged and the roller coaster took a sudden sharp turn with one hack to the wrist. With that, the nasty meter on this first round series increased by about a thousand. Chris Neil is now in Ottawa's lineup, their marquee bruiser, and PK has vowed to play with more discipline. But who cares? We want the carnage. We want the madness. It's the playoffs! Hack away PK! Push and shove Chris Neil! Threaten away Dave Cameron! The Young and the Restless has nothing on the NHL.
But let's be serious. Yes Mark Stone received a hack to the forearm, but it was a hack every player receives on a nightly basis. In fact it was an identical hack Mark Schiefle delivered last night and received a 2 minute penalty for because the victim of his hack didn't fall to the ice like he was picked off by a sniper in the stands. Word is this morning that Mark Stone will likely be in the line-up tonight as well, so how seriously should we take his tuck and roll on the Bell Center ice?
Nevertheless the rhetoric this has stirred up is fantastic. Ottawa accusing PK of targeting Mark Stone...ahhh ya - he's one of Ottawa's best players, isn't that what your supposed to do in the playoffs? Wasn't Ottawa targeting PK because he's one of Montreal's best players? Isn't trash talking and getting under the best players skin a hallmark of a great playoff battle? Claude Lemieux? Chris Pronger, aren't they famous of chirping and getting under guys' skin? Didn't the Sens have a guy that bit someone? Plus you have the threats from Dave Cameron to slash a Hab in retaliation...just throw a fedora on Dave Cameron and hand him a Tommy Gun and this is straight outta 1920s Chicago. His "solution" will be enacted with good ol' street justice. Maybe he'll have a cigar hanging out of his mouth and laugh as he pulls the trigger...maybe.
But, regardless of what happens tonight, keeping calm is always relative. Will Ottawa be calm and able to focus on the task at hand of levelling the series? Will PK be calm and try not to hack on? Is it even possible to remain calm in such tense circumstances? As a fan, I certainly hope not. It's the mayhem and the carnage that keeps me addicted. Will I be calm relative to child birth? Maybe? Calm relative to Carey Price. Probably not, but who really is asides from Carey Price? Perhaps we will all best be served by taking some of his advice, maybe we should all just, "chill out." But where's the fun in that?