I really thought that I'd find the playoffs more interesting. I thought that'd I'd really be able to get behind some teams. I sat with the son of GT and talked about the teams we liked and would support: Carolina (Dougie Weight); San Jose (that's a good freakin' team); Buffalo (the kid really like the Sabres for some reason); anyone playing Detroit (family rule).
Lots to watch; lots to root for, right? Wrong.
There's just something about having your team out that makes hockey so much less exciting. I've watched the Ottawa/Tampa series. I'm sure that was great for Sens fans and heart-wrenching for Bolt fans. I'd hoped to be watching and jumping out of the couch for the big goals. Didn't happen. Some sweet goals, for sure, but Ijust did not care. Ottawa is a machineand they are Cup Final bound. But without a chance that ourNote couldbe there, I become more analytical than fanatical.
Back in '99 the Blues were playing the Coyotes in the first round. I was living in Virginia at the time and working where I had to be at work no later than 7 am. The Arizona games were coming on so late that I was jeopardizing my entire day of wakefulness just to tune in. So of course they went to 7 games.
Game seven started at about 10pm in VA. By the time they went to OT, it was 1am. By the time Turgeon scored and they won, it was after 2. Along the way, in order to help the cause, I'd gone upstairs and pulled out my away Blues jersey (which I wore when I played pick-up). Then I'd gone upstairsand gotten my home Hull jersey and put that on. On TOP of the the other jersey. Somewhere else along the line I'd grabbed a Blues hat. I think I even ransacked the sleeping wife's gear for other STL-related garb.
When the Blues scored and beat freaking Jeremy Roenick, god-damn keith Tkachuk (wasn't a Blue yet, so I hated him) and stoopid-lookin' Nik Khabibulin, I screamed out loud with my fisted hands up high. Then I shut down the tube and basically ran up to go to bed.
When I woke up less than four hours later to go to work, I still had the jerseys on and the smile was still on my face. Nothing beats the playoffs.
When your team is playing.
But this year, my first year as a fan without a playoff team in the fight, I'm having a hard time getting excited. I'm glad the Hurricanes have battled back because I'm pulling for Weight. It's too bad that Sillinger's season is over, but the Sharks were obviously way too much for the Preds once they lost Vokoun to a woman-disease. Chris Mason played hard, but come on. You're not a career minor league goalie at age 30 because you have the potential to put together a 60-day Cup run.
I do find it funny that The Visor helped sink an already-sinking Vancouver team. The only way to beat that is if the Blues could have gotten Detroit to take Lalime to be their starting goalie and then folded in the first round. Of course, they folded anyway, but it wasn't Lalime's or even Osgood's fault. But I'm glad they're done. Do you think Chris Pronger is thinking, "hmm. That wasn't impossible, after all. Why was that so hard in St. Louis?"
Do you think he and Shanahan had a moment in the handshake line? "Hey. Traded for you. Maybe we can both win Cups after leaving St. Louis?"
OK, everyone likes predictions, so I'll throw some out. Of course, going off my first round predictions, I called the Wings, Stars and Rangers to move on. I got the Sharks and Sens right, but calling the Flyers, Canes and Flames are still up for grabs (yes, I called the Flyers even though the son of GT wants the Sbres - don't tell him).
For the rest of the first round, I think the Sabres will close it out, but I would like to see the Flyers move on and have youngster Umberger become their rallying point. That kid got destroyed with a huge, clean hit and came back to score a goal in his next game (he missed one as a precaution). Drafted in the first round by Vancouver (home of The Visor), traded to NYR and let go as an UFA by the Blueshirts, I've always thought the kid deserved a chance. Behind Carter and Richards, he doesn't get much rookie-love press, but he could easily become the next Rod Brind'Amour.
I also think that the Canes (and Weight) close out Montreal and advance, as do the Flames at home in game 7.
I'll do some second-round stuff when it all gets settled, but here are a few other Gallagher GT predictions:
-Kovalev (MTL) scores at least one more sweet move to score.
-I stand out at the next Cardinals' game selling GT and think, "I can't wait until we get back to hockey crowds".
-Dougie Weight lobbies to come back to St. Louis while on-air during the playoffs.
-I bump an open beer with my elbow and think, "when the hell did I open that?"
-Hasek causes controversy in Ottawa by proclaiming himself ready to "start in net", even though Ray Emery has been awesomely deliciously awesome in net for the Sens and is clearly the new starter.
-RJ Umberger becomes a cult hero. Unless the Flyers can't come back. In which case...
-Chris Drury becomes a cult hero. Again. And we have to hear about how he pitched the game that won the Little League World Series when he was 12 years old. Again.
-Detroit throws their goaltending under the bus.
-The wifeditor wakes up and urgently says, "what're you doing?" before falling asleep while mumbling, "hot".