There’s a hole in my heart only a puck can fill.
Yes, I’m a hockey fan. A Washington Capitals hockey fan. I saw eighty regular season games on cable this year (well, most of them), all in hopes my Caps would make the Stanley Cup playoffs for only the second time in their forty-year history.
Well, they made the playoffs. That’s where the hysteria began.
Playoff madness takes over your mind, your life and you lose all perspective. Time becomes a blur. For any avid fan, life’s goal changes from spending time with friends and loved ones to intimately following your team through all four playoff rounds (and a possible twenty-eight games over a sixty day period) just so you can watch your ice heroes hoist the Stanley Cup sometime in June. June, as in beautiful late spring, early summer. When the weather is nice to be outside again. When chores need to be done. Yards need to be tended. What, little Johnnie is six now? When did that happen?
The worst part of the playoffs is pace: a game, a night off, another game, a night off – there’s practically no break until your team loses a best-of-seven round and is eliminated. I’m tired and the Caps only went two rounds this year. Think what it must be like to go to the finals.
If you’re a Caps fan, it gets even worse. Their hockey MO is to stretch series to the seven game limit. They cannot win or lose in four – they love teasing you with 3-1 series leads, then blowing the next three games. Sometimes they blow the next two and pull out the seventh in overtime, having succeeded in wearing themselves out just to do it all over again for another series, then ask for more.
They also love close games. There are no blow outs. They love overtime. They once played a playoff game into four overtimes, finally losing at 2 AM (I saw that one personally and stayed to the bitter end).
This is very difficult on fans. Sleep patterns are disrupted. Eating times are often rearranged. Bad moods last for days. Weight is gained. Interest in other activities wanes. Actually, bad moods never end. Unless … (until) you win the Cup.
The Capitals should be playing tonight. Had they beaten The New York Rangers in game seven Tuesday (losing in overtime, 2-1), they’d be playing Tampa Bay this weekend in the Eastern Conference finals. I miss the misery. I miss my emotions being yanked up and down like a yo-yo. I miss having to skip laundry because the game is on. I miss screaming at the TV, “Take that, Marcel #!%@* de &#@!#, you &#%$!!!”
Time now to clean the bathroom, refill prescriptions, vacuum, replace burned out light bulbs, refill the empty freezer case, take the snow shovel away from the front door, fix the front door lock, dust. No wonder I can’t wait for the first preseason game in September.