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The game is on the ice

Tuesday, 03.10.2009 / 10:55 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

 
Whew!!!

I am the happiest hockey fan these days.  The trade deadline is over and the focus is once again on the game. You do remember the game don't you, the one that is played on the ice?
 
Enough of the trade rumors, enough of the "sources/league executives and whispers around the league told me" talk.  Now the only "talk" is what the players do on the ice.  I prefer it that way.
 
As a fan, I want what is best for my team and I am always thinking of a way to make the team better.  Even though a trade scenario may not fit in terms of the salary cap and may be an issue in the locker room, I tend to gloss over those issues and just look at the powerful lineup I just created in my trade dream.
 
Now I can just focus on the play on the ice.  Maybe you can too. Every point gained or lost may be the difference in making the playoffs or not.  Every shift is important, every line change is key and every shot off the post will be remembered.
 
That is why I am watching as many games as possible.  Sure some teams may have a playoff position locked up, but most likely the team they are facing does not.  Sure a few teams may be out of the playoff picture, but the team they are facing is fighting for a playoff spot.  
 
We are in what I call "pre-playoff hockey mode" and most games are exciting and very intense this time of year.  Even though your team may not be playing on a given night, you are still watching, figuring out how a loss by another team can put your team in a playoff contention.  You become a fan of your most hated rival, hoping they can defeat a team that would be beneficial to your team.
 
If your team is a lock to make the playoffs, you start "scouting" your possible first round opponent.  You know what team you want to play, knowing you may have a certain advantage if you met them in the first round.  But you don't want to go public with your choice, fearing a stroke of bad luck will come about.
 
Again, if your team is basically in the playoffs, you also know what team you absolutely do not want to play in the first round.  You secretly hope the hockey gods are on your side and somehow give your team a favorable first-round matchup.
 
For fans of teams fighting to get into the second season, you are not even thinking about first-round opponents.  You just want your team to be playing in mid-April and are not concerned about anything else at the moment.  You know deep down in your hockey mind if your team does get into the playoffs, momentum  may be on your side and a monumental first-round upset could be in the cards.
 
Whatever the case may be, you, as a hockey fan, are watching.  We know the last month of the season will bring joy, sadness, unbelievable action and heart-breaking losses.  We know what is coming and cannot keep our eyes off the game on the ice, the best game in the world.
 
May your team win its next game, if not, there is always the game after that!
 
As always, please feel free to email me with any questions, comments or concerns at pk@kuklaskorner.com.


Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season