“Are the Preds going to make the playoffs?” my beautiful bride of 10 years asks. “Yeah, they did it the Nashville way,” I replied, referring to the fact that the Predators were one of the hottest teams in the NHL post All-Star break, yet faltered down the stretch posting a mediocre 5-4-1 record in their final 10 games, failing to clinch a playoff spot three times when they had the opportunity. “That’s exciting!” she says, but I know what really lies behind that smile.
I’ve always been a hockey fan. My fandom has been well documented as has my conversion from Red Wings fan to a fan of the local hockey club, the Nashville Predators. I don’t think anyone that follows me on social media could remotely consider me a bandwagon fan.
It’s spring, a beautiful time of the year. The flowers and trees are blooming here in Middle Tennessee (hello, Claritin). NASCAR is full throttle, the local baseball diamonds no longer sit empty and the kids are returning from Spring Break, ready for the final stretch to summer vacation. Spring is also marked by the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While there is heartbreak and disappointment for some teams, for others there’s relief, a “reset” on the season. What has happened the first 82 games of the season doesn’t really matter. The first team to win 16 games wins. There’s still a long road ahead as possibly more than a quarter of a season remains to be played (up to 28 games).
With all this excitement comes heartburn, nausea, cold sweats and diarrhea. Maybe I exaggerated a bit on the latter, but I think this happens to any die-hard sports fan. The playoffs will keep a fan on the edge of their seat. A single shift, a big save, a fight or even a big hit can change a series, making the playoffs so exciting and gut-wrenching to watch.
So, if I say my wife isn’t quite as excited as she appears, it’s not because she’s not a Predators fan, it’s because she knows it’s that time of year for celebrating a goal in front of the television, and a few minutes later dropping to my knees and begging God for a short-handed goal. It’s that time of year, while over coffee the next morning, she can tell by my tone how the game the night before went. To add even more drama to this years playoff season, my D-League team is in the final stretch of the regular season and pushing hard to secure a playoff berth. Did I mention I play in goal? Hello, stressful April.
Be sure to have plenty of Tums available for what’s sure to be another roller coaster ride through the post season. Make sure you’re up on your social media game as well; it’s always fun trash talking on Twitter.
Welcome to the home stretch. This is what every team and player looks forward to at the beginning of the season. Once you’re in, anything is possible. Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Let’s Go Predators.
Photo credit: Christina McCullough