Stock up on chicken wings, cut your phone lines, and dump your girlfriend. It’s time for the NHL playoffs or, as us Boston Bruins fans call it, the most exciting eight days of the year.
I love the playoffs and like most relationships, the first two weeks are best. Canada has hope and the post-season is welcomed as the first burst of spring.
By the time the finals get underway, it’s too hot for hockey, the Canuck clubs have melted away, and, often, a contender from the deep south has you wondering how long it will be before the Quito Nordiques defeat the Bogota Maple Leafs in the Copa del Stanley.
But, oh, the next few weeks. The playoffs provide the comfort of a tradition with the excitement of unpredictable pandemonium. It’s like going home for Christmas and finding a new family every year. And who wouldn’t want that?
Because I am one of Canada’s top three most-read columnists on this page, the country has been awaiting my Stanley Cup predictions. And here they are.
- One overtime game will go deep into the night - with dozens of saves, goalposts and close calls - ending only when you decide to take a "quick jaunt" to the bathroom.
- Something spectacular will happen whenever TV decides to have a pointless during-play interview with a parent (on Canadian TV) or second-rate celebrity (on U.S. TV). We didn’t need to see that Ovechkin goal, NBC. An unshaven Vince Vaughan in a ball cap is awesome, too.
- Even if the final series is between Nashville and Tampa Bay and involves not a single Toronto connection, media will be abuzz with what it means for the Leafs. ("Lost in all the hubbub over the Stanley Cup championships, is that Mikhail Grabovski and the winning coach wear a similar brand of sock.")
- Don Cherry will applaud the military, laud Canada, and warn players not to showboat, dive, hit from behind, back down from a fight, or get your stick in the way of a shot. Rumour has it he may also wear something delightfully offbeat.
And those are my predictions. You don’t even need to watch anymore. And though I’ve mocked Don Cherry, you should still remember the words of a certain strangely-dressed and plain-speaking Canadian icon when I say: Keep your stick on the ice.