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You have to watch

by Paul Kukla
Eight teams left. The first to win 12 more games owns the Stanley Cup for a year. Every fan base remaining is starting to dream a bit more, dream of getting the chance to hold the Cup along with their team!
To really get into "playoffs fever" mode, may I suggest you watch every game of all the playoff series remaining. You may say "I really only care about my team," and I can understand that.  But if you really care about your team, don't you want to know what the future holds when you advance to the Conference Finals and beyond?
Of course you do.  You want to find out the tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of the team you may be facing in the near future.  You will be so prepared for the next round, your team's coaching staff may come to you for some scouting advice.
Your friends and family will soon refer to you as a hockey expert.  They may want to go out at night, maybe catch a movie or do some shopping, but your response will be, "Sorry, can't do it, hockey on tonight."  You will get some funny looks and some derogatory responses may be hurled your way, but with time, you will be known as "The Hockey Expert."
Soon, neighbors will be seeking your advice, people who work with you will understand why you are late for work and will forgive you for those 15 minute naps at your desk. After all, you are "The Hockey Expert."
Another question you may have goes something like this -- "Why do I want to do this, alienate myself from the rest of the world, people will think I am nuts?" True, but give it some time and it will work out, at least for you, the fan of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.
In my younger days, I wish someone would have passed on the advice I am giving you today. As a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, the playoffs were always a time of great disappointment in the late 1980's and the early '90's.  It wasn't until I dove headfirst into the playoffs, say around 1997, that I was able to not only turn the many Wings defeats into victories, but I also became a "Hockey Expert."
Sure I loved the game before that, but I never fully consumed the playoffs, watching every game of every future possible opponent until the Wings won their first Cup in over four decades and I have continued do so to this day.
I was hesitant to pass this information on to you, knowing full well I could be giving fans of other teams besides the Wings an added advantage.  But as a "Hockey Expert," I felt it was my duty to do so. On the other hand, maybe more Detroit fans will do as I do, and all will be well within the hockey world.
No matter how your team ends up this playoff season, you will be walking away from all of this with the "Hockey Expert" title, one title you will never lose and one that was earned and well deserved.
Enjoy the games as the Conference Semifinals begin and keep me posted on how you are doing by emailing me at
Go Bruins, Go Canes, Go Caps, Go Pens, Go Nucks, Go Hawks, Go Ducks and Go Wings.  Now go watch all the hockey games!

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