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Topsy-turvy season a reason to stay up late

Tuesday, 01.12.2010 / 10:43 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

Why do I stay awake until 1:00am to watch NHL games that don't even involve the team I follow?

Why do I get up at 6:00am to catch up on all the hockey news I may have missed during the few hours I was asleep?

Why do I repeat this pattern, day after day, week after week, from September to June?

The answer to all of the above is simple. It's because I am a hockey fan.

I am sure many of you maintain the same hockey lifestyle and, even though we may cheer for different teams, the one thing that binds us together is the game itself.

We may be watching a game for different reasons:  Your team is in the playoff hunt and you want to see how the teams you need to pass in the standings are doing.  You may just have a favorite player and even though he doesn't play for the home team, you just enjoy his game.

Others may watch games for the sheer joy of watching elite athletes perform in a way we can only dream.  Or you may just want to find a release from your daily grind and tune into a game, making it a release for you from your everyday life.

Whatever the reason you watch, the most important thing is that you are watching and probably will continue to watch.

I check the NHL schedule on a daily basis to plan on what games to watch that night, especially if my team is not playing.  On nights that my team is playing, I am still keeping an eye on other games and will be constantly monitoring a few games that have consequences in regard to the playoff race.

I flick channels, put my DVR to good use and have become an expert on just how long a commercial break really lasts. I have it all under control -- except for the game itself, which of course is the reason I am watching in the first place.

Games that you think are a given win or loss for a certain team is just not happening anymore.  What they say is true, "On any given night…." or "That's why they play the games," has never been more true than this season.

I have stopped predicting the outcomes of games that I thought were already booked as a win or a loss.  Normally a team on the last game of a long road trip or a team playing their first home game after that road trip is looked at as a loss, but this year that is not happening.  How about a team suffering from major injuries? A sure loss in my mind, but not this year. 

I now expect the unexpected in every game and if you are not, you should have that same mindset. 

Of course, there are a few teams at the top and bottom of the standings that will probably stay in that position for the rest of the regular season.  But the majority of teams are still in a major playoff battle and those teams should be watched on a nightly basis.

Even though you may not directly be involved with those teams, their play can determine how your team finishes in the race for the second season.

So keep and eye on all the NHL teams. After all, what else is there to do in January, February, March, April, May and June?

Fans Say Washington vs. Chicago in the Final

Just a quick note on how the fans feel at this mid-point mark of the NHL season.  I took an informal poll on Twitter, asking followers which two teams would be meeting in the Stanley Cup Final.

The overwhelming response was Chicago against Washington, which was a bit surprising.  I am not saying those teams won't be in the Final, but I would say 9 out of 10 responders mentioned those two teams, which kind of shocked me.  I guess we will find out soon enough how things will shake out.

Have a great hockey week and as always, feel free to email me with any questions you may have at pk@kuklaskorner.com or follow me on Twitter.
Quote of the Day

One player does not make your team. One player can help your team, but one player does not make your team. We're not a bare-bones organization.

— Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson
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