|Nancy Koenig has been an NHL.com contributor since 2000. She will share her thoughts regularly on NHL.com's Blog Central.
Might as well face
it, I'm addicted ...
My counseling career is suffering, friends are cursing me for my failure to return calls and Leche, my cat, is filing for neglect. I haven't even made time to visit my irresistible 9-month-old twin nephews, who I hear are donning their Original Six socks today. I haven't been this unpopular, or felt like this big of a creep, in two years.
For some reason, I thought it would be different this year. I incorrectly assumed I'd be able to watch games selectively, at will. I thought I would successfully balance the games with the rest of my life.
In other words, I forgot how ridiculously and hopelessly addicted I am to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That's not entirely true. I did sort of see this coming, and did my best to prepare accordingly. I even decided to spend the weekend at my mom's house, knowing my viewing pleasures would be compromised by the fact that she does not happen to subscribe to Center Ice. With only one television in the house getting OLN and a mom who is only interested in the local teams, I figured I'd keep things under control.
Like any addict, I found ways to bypass my intentions of limitation. I manipulated my way into "one more period," until I discovered I no longer needed to. By the time the Sabres had beaten the Flyers in double OT on Saturday night, my mom was as into the playoffs as my grandma, recruited the night before. I'm still wondering where Grandma learned about no-touch icing. I think my family may be secretly Canadian.
And who knew OLN could be so tolerable, well, minus the occasional loss of coverage and volume issues.
Don't you just love those Element ads? At least they kept me entertained through the technical difficulties.
I won't be viewing quite as many of them now that we've ordered Center Ice at my mom's. Hey, it's only $49 for the playoffs! Sure, I could have just gone back to my apartment but it's much more fun to watch these games with my tribe.
And my brother only lives a few minutes from here, so I can stop over to see those adorable babies of his between periods. It's not as if he'll have anything on other than hockey, but he gets a tad more emotional about outcomes than I do so I'll only stick around if his team is winning.
I've given up attempts to control use. Since hockey is about as safe as addictions come, I'm going to indulge. My work will improve in a couple of months, my friends will forgive me when they remember I live on the beach and supply free passes and Leche will recall that there's no better napping spot than my lap.
So which series has been your favorite so far, and why? What are your predictions for this round, and on? Send me your thoughts; just don't expect me to respond until the offseason!
Where has the time gone?
The regular season will officially conclude in eight days. It doesn't matter how many times I hit backspace and retype that sentence, rearranging the order of words; the essence remains unaltered. Am I the only left wondering where it went?
Although I'm looking forward to the postseason as much as anyone, I'm not quite ready for its approach, or rather, the regular season's departure. My 2005-06 to-do list still contains too many tasks not yet accomplished, from players I'd meant to interview and stories I'd intended to write to matchups I failed to catch either on Center Ice or in person.
For instance, despite the added intra-division opportunities created by this year's scheduling format, I have somehow managed to miss every Ranger-Islander game this season, a trend that will continue tomorrow. I've either been out of town or working at my other job, which gives vacation and sick time, but oddly, no game time. If I'm not mistaken, the matches have all fallen between Tuesdays and Thursdays, the very three nights I moonlight as a substance abuse counselor. How I've managed to concentrate on other people's addictions while suffering through horrific hockey withdrawal is beyond me.
Here's the real kicker. I've witnessed zero shootouts. Some chalk it up to karma; perhaps if I hadn't been so vehemently opposed to the idea in the beginning, I would not be able to anti-boast this fact. Mid-season, I came around on my original stance, declaring I would wait until I caught one in person to judge -- after all, they sure look like fun on TV and I've received some very convincing emails from fans who, like myself, had originally been opposed.
Since then, I've tried everything to catch one. I've pleaded. I've prayed. I've tried to trick karma by showing up to games tied late in the third, but to no avail; the shootout still eludes me. Fortunately for friends and family, the Hockey Gods have fabulous senses of humor: my nephew caught the 15-rounder between the Rangers and Caps his first game of the season and my mother and aunt caught one last week at their first game of the year. They were also on hand to celebrate as the Rangers clinched their first playoff berth since 1997. Talk about picking your spots!
Blogging tops my list of things I wish I did more of this season. Many entries were written in my head that failed to make it onto my computer screen, and consequently, yours. See, I'm constantly writing in my mind - it's just finding the time to type that gets in the way and by the time I get a chance to rendezvous with my keyboard, the topic has already become irrelevant. A notebook would indeed solve this problem, but considering I've fried two desktops this year alone, I'm guessing this isn't the right time to purchase one.
I haven't forgotten that I promised to write about how I got my start in the industry, for all the aspiring writers who have taken the time to email me. It's a story I will save for next season, because it's too good to summarize and too self-indulgent to tell at this time of year. Why would you want to read about me when you could be sifting through every online article written about the crazy race in the West?
That's what I want to be doing, when I'm not watching the actual games, that is! The Sharks are certainly turning it on in the homestretch, with a four-game winning streak against relevant rivals like the Stars, who they beat for the second time this week. I only caught the second period of last night's game, but it was enough to convince me that this potential first-round matchup would be a lot closer than previous postseason encounters (Dallas defeated San Jose 4-2 in the '98 quarterfinals and again 4-1 in the 2000 semis) and I'd even go so far as to give the Sharks the edge. Sure, the Stars have a lock on the Pacific title and aren't nearly as hungry right now, but they were either coasting or justly outplayed last night; neither is recommended this time of year.
The Rangers saw their three-game winning streak come to an end Sunday night, but not before hitting the 100-point mark since the 1993-94 season Saturday, a game which featured Jaromir Jagr tallying his 53rd of the season, becoming the Rangers' all-time single-season goal leader in the process.
This was unbeknownst to me as I met shortly afterwards with Adam Graves, who previously held the record set in 1993-94, for an upcoming feature about the clinics he hosts for the Junior Rangers All-S.T.A.R Club. Of course, the ever-humble and altruistic Graves was happy to see his record shattered.
"I think it's outstanding for the game," Graves said. "I think, rather I know, that he is far and away the best player in the world; there's not anyone remotely close to him. It's great to see him playing the way he is and I enjoy watching him. He's an absolutely fantastic talent. Anytime you get the privilege of being in the same conversation or the same hockey linkages as Jaromir and Vic Hadfield (who scored 50 goals for the Rangers in 1971-72), you have to consider yourself very, very fortunate."
Considering what Graves has meant to the Rangers organization and New York community since his arrival in 1991, Jagr should be equally honored.