If there is anything that might make you think you need several intense therapy sessions, it’s being a Bruins fan in the middle of the playoffs.
The lows are low as if you are licking salt off the floor of Badwater Basin in Death Valley.
But, those highs.
The highs make you feel like you are standing 20310 feet above sea level in a triumphant stance atop Mt. Denali.
The ear-splitting roar from the crowd is electrifying even from my vantage point on the sofa. Suddenly aware of the horrified looks from my family, I quickly realize the thunderous caterwauling is originating much closer than the arena 89 miles away.
I enthusiastically wave my Black and Gold towel and return my focus to the big screen and deafening crowd noise.
The playoffs are an experience. A whole-hearted, full-body experience.
The sound of the skates cutting into the ice and swoosh of a hard turn to ward off a defender. The sharp clink of the puck hitting the post after a quick backhand attempt. The slap of the puck going tape to tape from a cross-ice pass. The deep rumble of the boards during a full-body wallop, doling out punishment to the opponent. The thump of the puck hitting the goalie pad thwarting the one-timer. The unmistakable crack of a broken stick after a slap-shot wind-up.
The sweet melody of playoff hockey hits my ears like the magical bell of the ice cream truck enticing the neighborhood kids on a hot and humid summer day.
My eyes dart back and forth, watching the players skate into the zone and back out again. A quick pass to the slot defended and sent the length of the ice. Icing, the puck comes back for a face-off. The slamming of the fan’s hands against the glass in excitement as the gloves drop. The panicked scramble of the goalie trying to find the puck as hockey sticks jab in every direction, trying to score or frantically defend. A center-ice face-off as the players try to anticipate the puck drop from the referee.
The magnificent sights of hockey stir up in me the jubilation found in golden-agers in line for the early-bird special at the local all-you-can-eat buffet.
Taking a deep breath, I can almost smell the enticing arena popcorn and taste the ice-cold beer. Who am I kidding here? I am happily sitting on the sofa with the greasy, salty goodness sticking more and more to my fingers each time I reach into the large bowl of perfectly popped kernels. My free hand reaches for the frosted glass filled with a delicious amber malt beverage with a striking layer of foam sitting on top. I quickly plunk down my snacks and clap my hands wildly at the early goal. I keep watching with nervous anticipation each time the puck is shot on net. My heart sinks at two quick goals by the opposing team grabbing the lead. The score remains, taunting me amidst penalties, power-plays, and shooting onslaughts until close to the end of the final period. Then it happens.
The tying goal late in the third sends me into a frenzied celebration of my unique happy dance and song that would leave any vaudeville act in awe.
One shot can change it all.
The players retreat to their respective dressing rooms to plan their attack. This brief pause allows my heart to return to a more normal rate while I refill my empty glass.
Somebody has to win.
I sit on the edge of the sofa. I feel my heart rate elevating again as I wipe my sweaty palms on the pant legs—the puck drops.
Death Valley Ending
Fresh ice allows for fast hard skating and quick puck movement. One mistake, one turnover can end it. My eyes do not stray from the screen. Anyone in the room utters no words. Focus is on the game, the puck, the players, the goalie. In a moment, my heart crashes with the force of a race car going 180mph, hitting the wall at Talladega on turn two with five laps to go. A quick wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder ends the contest and leaves me sitting on the couch in complete bewilderment at how, without hesitation, the puck hit the back of the net seconds into overtime.
Fresh ice allows for fast hard skating and quick puck movement. One mistake, one turnover can end it. My eyes do not stray from the screen. Anyone in the room utters no words. Focus is on the game, the puck, the players, the goalie. In a moment, my heart races with the exhilaration of an IndyCar driver beating 32 other drivers after 200 break-neck laps at the Brickyard. A quick wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder ends the contest leaving me jumping from the couch to perform my animated, pzazz-filled victory dance, in disbelief and delight at how, without hesitation, the puck hit the back of the net seconds into overtime.