Once again possessed by the playoffs
by Saralyn Norkus, Banner Sports Writer
May 29, 2013 | 1128 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As sports fans we all get caught up in the excitement and drama that our favorite sport’s postseason can bring about. Currently, I’m trapped in the agonizing throes of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs.

I’ve been an NHL fan for many, many years, so by now you would think that I have learned how to control the overflow of emotions that fall within the playoff territory. Well, I’m here to let you know that I’m an absolute and total failure at staying cool, calm and collected during the month of May and beginning of June.

OK, so maybe I’m never really that cool, calm and collected when it comes to my favorite sport, but when it comes to Lord Stanley’s Cup it seems that I become engulfed by the postseason year after year after year.

The way my moods can be affected by this sport is almost ungodly.

I know I can’t be the only sports fan who has this melodramatic reaction when their team makes their respective playoffs. I mean, this has to be a somewhat normal reaction, right?

I was born and raised a Detroit Red Wings fan, and in my almost 25 years of life the Wings have made a total of 22 consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To date, that is the longest standing “streak” in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks come in in second place, with a total of nine postseason appearances.

The last time that the Red Wings missed the playoffs was in the 1989-90 season, which was one year after I was born. Impressive, is it not?

Some of my oldest memories are those involving playoff parties with our next-door neighbors — nights containing more excitement and nervousness than almost imaginable.

Even though my main team has made it into the postseason for as long as I can remember, I’ve seen my fair share of heartbreaks and downright embarrassing losses. To date I have only seen the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups. True, that’s more than a majority of fans have seen their own teams’ win, but that leaves a whopping 18 years where the Wings didn’t even come close to winning or served up a devastating loss in the championship.

I have also been a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past 10 years. In those 10 years I have watched the struggling chicks transition into a Stanley Cup caliber team, a truly great journey.

The Penguins have made seven consecutive playoff appearances in the past 10 years, including two back-to-back Stanley Cup finals against the Red Wings. Can you say conflicted?

I suffered through as my team took on my team, knowing that I would watch one win and one lose. Right now you are probably saying, “Hey, quit your whining, at least you can say that your teams made back-to-back appearances in a playoff final.” And yes, I know how impressive that really is. I also know how stressful it can be when you are both cheering and upset each time a team scores! Honestly, it was the most difficult thing to sit through.

The Red Wings and the Penguins split those two years; Detroit winning the Cup in the 2007-08 season and Pittsburgh winning in the 2008-09 season. I suppose that was poetic justice, right?

The 2012-13 season turned into a 2013-only season thanks to an unnecessary lockout, but the postseason has most definitely been making up for the lack of regular season games.

For the first time in what feels like forever to me, the Red Wings almost didn’t make the playoffs. In fact, they just managed to creep into the seventh place slot in the Western Conference, only ahead of the Minnesota Wild.

The former powerhouse hockey team became the token underdog team, spurring on the murmurs of their former personas as the “Dead Wings.” On the other hand, my Penguins sailed into the playoffs with the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference. For once I’m not worried about the Penguins in the playoffs. They are perhaps the best team in the league this year, and late signings of players like Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, and Doug Murray just added to an already-loaded team.

Seriously, there is not one Pittsburgh line that is not stacked both offensively and defensively. If the Penguins don’t make the Stanley Cup Finals I will be truly shocked.

The team that is eliciting this flurry of emotions in me this postseason is most definitely the Red Wings. Since I do not have traditional cable, I have been forced to listen to the game via a radio app or suffer through the occasionally working NBC livestreams, chock full of horribly biased announcers.

If few people expected the Wings to beat Anaheim in the first round, then no one at all expected the Red Wings to pose even a speed bump to the President’s Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks. Cue the David and Goliath comparisons.

In the regular season Detroit was unable to beat Chicago. At all. Not one, single game. Sure the majority of their meetings ended in an overtime loss, but the point here is that the Wings weren’t able to pull the trigger and get a win.

There was talk of a Blackhawk sweep of their last-time conference rival. If it’s one thing we sports fans know, it’s that the regular season means absolutely nothing once the playoffs begin.

Chicago took the first game in the series, but it was Detroit which took the next three games, pushing the Blackhawks towards the abyss that is elimination.

Then Saturday night happened and the Wings were unable to finish off Chicago. Then Monday night happened and, even with the home-ice advantage, Detroit was not able to end the Blackhawks’ playoff run.

Now there is tonight, Game 7 of the conference semifinals. Tonight is do or die, and by the end of the night there is a chance the Red Wings will be heading home to hit the golf course. There is also a chance that it will be the Blackhawks who lose.

I have no clue how tonight will go and that absolutely terrifies me. Most likely, it also terrifies anyone within a half mile radius of me who has heard all the yelling and screaming that I have done in the past week.

A majority of the time I’m not even sure that I’m yelling legitimate words at the computer screen. Seriously, I’ve gotten that bad!

Perhaps tonight my neighbors will finally break down and call an exorcist to come to my place, because if they don’t think that I’m half insane by now, then surely they think that I’m possessed.

They would be right, seeing as how I have become possessed by the playoffs.