October marks the beginning of a cycle most hockey diehards know a little too well:
“This’ll be the year I convince my loved ones that this sport is worth their time.”
Your loved ones might humor you for a while, but you tend to lose them somewhere between Game 56 of the regular season and Kid Rock headlining the 2018 All-Star Game. When the Kid Rock moment happens -- and it always does -- you can’t really blame them for giving up.
So you wave your own white flag and get over it. They’ll be back.
It usually starts with a few texts from some acquaintance asking you for gambling advice. Then your ears perk up when one of your coworkers says something slightly more profound than “Tuukka Rask is bad.” Before you know it, even your baseball purist grandfather is coming out of the woodwork to enjoy at least one period of a hockey game with you.
It’s the one sacred time of the year you can point to Jake DeBrusk grabbing the “B” on his chest, or Brad Marchand licking folks, or an expansion team based in Las Vegas sweeping Round 1 and scream:
“SEE?! I TOLD YOU THIS IS GOOD!”
The Stanley Cup playoffs are untouchable, or least they were. That’s why most of us can’t stand what’s happening.
Blaming the referees is among the most insufferable things a sports-watcher can do. It’s lazy, pointless, and usually baseless.
Three things I need to make absolutely clear:
1. The better team won Lightning-Bruins Game 2.
2. Not even one fiber of my being thinks any official is pulling for any team.
3. This game featured flagrantly terrible officiating. Worse still, it was a reflection of this playoff season as a whole.
Can someone explain the return of the pre-season’s strict faceoff rules? This is slowing down the game, seems to serve no purpose, and is just painfully annoying. I’ll begrudgingly accept “rules are rules” for this, but then…
Again, this is an equal opportunity disaster. Why wasn’t Kevan Miller given a boarding major after the textbook definition of sending Point into the boards? And why was Stralman given a matching penalty for saying the F word and giving Miller a light shove after?
It's already a shame when you start thinking of this stuff as much as you're thinking about the game itself. But what do you even call it when these inconsistencies start feeling like they have tangible impacts on playoff games?
Are you going to “let the boys play” or not? At this point I don’t even care what the answer is, just figure it out before the only sacred time of year is ruined.