Friday, May 11, 2012

A fan's guide to handling the pressure of Game Seven

The series turning point came when Ovechkin
started using the "slide the goalie out
of the crease" move from NHL '93.
Tonight, hockey fans will get to hear two of the most ominous words in sports: "game seven". The Washington Capitals will visit the New York Rangers for the conclusion of their series with a trip to the conference finals hanging in the balance.

For most fans, that makes the game something to look forward to. But if you're a diehard Capital or Ranger fan, maybe not. After all, seeing an entire season come down to a single winner-take-all contest can be excruciating. And let's face it, some fans handle this sort of situation better than others.

So whether you're a nervous fan or will have the misfortune of spending time around one, I'm here to help. Here are some tips on how to handle the day of a crucial NHL playoff game.

DO: If you'd prefer to watch alone, plan to take in the game someplace where you know you'll never have to worry about running into any hockey fans at this time of year.
DO NOT: Be rude if the Rexall Place security guard doesn't agree to let you in right away.

DO: Try your best to ignore that one guy watching the game with you and your friends who doesn't seem to be a hockey fan, know what's going on, or have even the slightest understanding about the NHL and how it works.
DO NOT: Be surprised when he casually mentions that he's in the process of buying the Phoenix Coyotes.

DO: Apologize immediately if the stress of the situation causes you to lose your temper with your children by snapping at them with one-word answers every time they try to talk to you.
DO NOT: Make the situation worse by explaining that you were simply trying to talk to them "Tortorella-style".

DO: Adhere to your time-honoured superstitions by making sure to watch from the exact same spot you were sitting in the last time your team won a game this big.
DO NOT: Take any attitude from people saying things like "You're sitting in my seat" and "You're blocking my view" and "You moved out of this apartment years ago, we're calling the police".

DO: Remember to be considerate of others who don't seem interested in the game, such as when turning to the obnoxious guys next to you at the bar and politely asking "Could you please keep it down, I'm feeling nervous about the big game that starts in a few hours".
DO NOT: Push it too far by adding "And come to think of it, aren't you supposed to be playing in it, Andrei?"

DO: Invite your New York Ranger fan friend out for a night of heavy drinking to get his mind off of the game.
DO NOT: Become too annoyed when he rushes around blocking everyone's attempt to take a shot out of force of habit.

DO: Reassure your Washington Capital fan best friend that he'll have your support win or lose, because he's always been there in good times and bad and is incredibly important to you.
DO NOT: Add that, based on what you've learned in the past few weeks from watching Dale Hunter, that means you're now going to have to start hanging out with six or seven other guys way more often than him for no apparent reason.

DO: Try to articulate the enormous respect you have for NHL players by coming up with some sort of comparison you could make to people in other professions.
DO NOT: Be surprised when this attempt results in you being pulled over five separate times on the way home by the NYPD.

DO: Take a moment to acknowledge that hockey is only a game, and while seeing your team win is nice it will never be more important than the time you spend with your loved ones.
DO NOT: Forget to make sure they've all left the room before apologizing profusely to the hockey gods and promising to never say something so ridiculous ever again.

DO: Remain philosophical in the face of defeat by saying things like "A tough playoff loss can be devastating, but I guess it's just an experience that we all have to go through at some point during our lives".
DO NOT: Point and laugh when the eight-year-old Maple Leafs fan next to you immediately begins to cry.


  1. "DO NOT: Push it too far by adding "'And come to think of it, aren't you supposed to be playing in it, Andrei?'"


  2. I didn't get the Dale Hunter joke?

    1. Yeah, I'll second that.

    2. It's an "Alexander Ovechkins' ice time has plummeted" joke.

    3. I believe it is a reference to the abundance of forwards now getting more ice time than Ovechkin.

  3. How many hours/days of playing NHL '93 did it take to figure out the "push the goalie" move? I think I figured it out around the 10,000 hour (AKA "Outliers") mark

  4. Would it be overly pedantic to note that Rexall Place held a WHL championship game only days ago, and probably won't host another merely because Edmonton is due to win the series in Game 6?

    1. The article is for watching game 7's. Game 5's don't count.

  5. I normally enjoy the Oiler jokes (even if I have to weep a little after reading them) but posting this two days before a big game 7 in Rexall Place involving an Oilers owned franchise ... could probably do better than that.

  6. "And come to think of it, aren't you supposed to be playing in it, Andrei?"