I try to steer clear of playoff predictions, because anybody who loves this sport knows that you can never accurately assume what's going to happen in a hockey game. Yet, somehow I am magically drawn to articles discussing all facets of the upcoming postseason, as the thirst for playoff excitement that brews in my stomach every April is too much to ignore.
So of course, I read them. All of them. And I cringe.
Do people understand how one crossbar can change a series? Or how one rut in the ice can cause the puck to bounce an inch left of where it would have bounced had the surface been completely smooth, causing a defenseman to lean the wrong way and allow a 2-on-1? Or even more ridiculous, how an overhead camera that can barely determine whether or not a puck went in may be used to decide the outcome of a 7-game set?
I know, I'm 'playing' scared. I don't want to imagine what will happen, because for so long I've been accustomed to watching my favorite team lose in big spot after big spot. But something magical happened in all those losing years: I became a hockey fan.
A hockey fan doesn't care what happens at the end of the game. He or she (yes ladies, I appreciate that you are out there) just wants to be enthralled in a great matchup, and to see each team react to unpredictable bounces and bone-crushing hits.
A hockey fan still watches when his or her team goes down, because there is more to this game than one team. But most of all, a hockey fan realizes that he or she has no idea what's going to happen - and that's the beauty of it.
So Wednesday night, forget what you have been thinking during these three brutal days without games. Forget your expectations and predictions. Sit back, enjoy, and watch (what I consider to be) the most exciting two months in sports.
Be a hockey fan.