The NHL Playoffs Part 1

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Woke up this morning realizing that once again, most Canadian teams are missing in this year’s NHL playoffs. Then I remembered that Les Habitants were among the missing teams. I smiled, but I will have no further comment.

Once again, we are in the midst of the longest, hardest-hitting, bone-crunching, tape-to-tape, blood-on-the-ice, bench-clearing, top-shelf-sniping-where-mama-hides-the-cookies hockey tournament in the world. It’s the best two months of ice action we can witness. Ladies and gentlemen, the playoffs are among us. Everyone has their hockey pools sent in and is keeping track of every point. Luckily, we have websites that do all the work for pool administrators.

Already we’ve seen spectacular saves, coast-to-coast rushes, and a beauty from my man – the Big Z, Zdeno Chara, going top shelf from an impossible angle. Oh, and one mind-boggling “kiss on the neck” by the Nose himself, that other player was never the same that night. All this in the first week!

At the beginning of the season, I saw one old friend get off the Canadiens ship and jump on the newly built bandwagon of the Vegas Golden Knights! Baffling! This guy was the biggest and loudest Habs fan I’ve known. Everyone thought he was crazy, but I thought “smart guy” to get off a sinking ship.

This is when the men grow their beards and disappear from all family responsibilities for the time his team is still fighting and moving on. There will be cheering on the goals and wins, arguing with the ref thinking he can hear you, moodiness when it doesn’t go our way. We’ll see some wear the same clothes on game day, perhaps eating the same meals as well. Sadly, there must be those real die-hard fans who don’t change their underwear because they think flies are lucky.

The wives must be happy as the men are always home to “watch” the kids every night, making free time for them to visit friends and family.

By the time this is in the newsstands, most of the teams will have moved on to the next round while others are sent home packing. Vegas has already swept their first-round opponents. I’m hoping and praying my team is one of those moving forward. Those pesky Leafs just don’t want to wilt away like they’re expected to.

This year we see the hard-hitting Western Conference teams killing each other out there. While there is still some hitting in the East, it is less punishing and skill-wise, more entertaining. Filip Forsberg of the Predators could argue that with his two inside-outside goals that just completely undressed the defence but I’m still giving Chara the best goal of the first round.

We can say the playoffs are boring without the Habs fans or we can say it’s nice and quiet. You decide. I have had the joy of having my sister, a Hab fan for reasons unknown, come watch the Bruins and Leafs in Game 3. She sat there talking on her phone, telling me stories, cheering for the wrong team when they scored. You know that character in cartoons whose head explodes and his face is red? That was me on the inside while I put on a brave smile and nodded to her stories. Sorry sis, nobody’s home next game.

So… predictions? I’ll admit that at the beginning of the season I didn’t see the Bruins going far, hopefully making it to the playoffs was good enough for a “rebuild year”. But today, I’m picking Boston in the East and the Nashville Predators in the West. But you can’t ignore the fact that the Pens and Golden Knights are just as hungry. The Pens because they’re on a mission to three-peat and the Vegas team because they want their biggest fan, Big John, to finally win one after so many heartbreaking years in Montreal.

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