The Bruins celebrate around (but don't touch!) the Prince of Wales trophy.
Riddle me this: Why are the Stanley Cup playoffs like old age?
The answer: Because neither one is for sissies.
It’s been a couple of days since the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. I think I’m starting to recover. I can actually watch the DVR now (for the fifth time – or is it sixth?) without twitching and flinching at every Tampa shot.
But Friday night almost did me in.
I was at work. I’m a newspaper editor (yes, we still exist!), and at times I work in news, at times in sports. In the sports department, we watch games on TV. In the news department, those of us who are fans watch surrepticiously. Unfortunately, I can only see the TV in the news department if I turn and crane my neck. Once, when I did so earlier in the playoffs, my co-worker across the desk got up and turned the TV off. I managed not to kill her (she is a nice person, really; she just has a blind spot when it comes to sports).
This time around, I didn’t chance it, just followed the game on NHL.com’s Icetracker, and via the Bruins’ Twitter updates (turning the notification sound so low that only I could hear it). I stayed busy, keeping the nerves at bay by throwing myself into my work.
Unfortunately, work petered out just after 10 p.m., as the scoreless game moved well into the third period. I picked up my phone, announced I was going outside for a break, and headed for the parking lot.
9:00 to go. Timeout Bruins.
I sat on a bench, hunched over, staring at the phone, as the seconds crawled by.
Shot toward Thomas. Deflected wide, but not far off.
Oh, thanks. Very reassuring. I leaned over, muttering, c’mon guys, c’mon, c’mon…
Bruins score! Horton!
I leaped off the bench, cheered, danced.
1-0 BOS. Horton (Ference, Krejci)
“When?” I asked the phone. Usually Bish (John Bishop, the Bruins’ PR man) gives the time of the goal. Not this time. I imagined the Garden, the noise, the crowd going wild, Krejci and Horton celebrating… I got up to pace. Surely there must not be much time left. Surely. Back and forth I went, back and forth…
6:00 to go.
Huge save by Roloson on Ryder.
Tampa Bay continues to be relentless.
OK, I didn’t need that.
Just under 2:00 to go.
I paced maniacally, watching the digital numbers change in the upper right corner of my phone, trying to prove to myself that time had not stopped.
Stoppage with 44 seconds left in regulation.
My heart was ready to burst out of my chest.
B’s control…. win!
I screamed up at the cloudy sky. I danced a quick jig, then ran inside, to the TV in the sports department, and watched the Bruins celebrate. I cried a little.
Then I went back to my seat. The editor across from me looked up. “Are you OK?” she asked.
“I had to go outside. I was too nervous to watch the game,” I said.
She shook her head and laughed. “It’s just a hockey game.”
No, no it isn’t. Trust me on this one. It isn’t.
Photo: Boston Bruins courtesy of slidingsideways at bestlaidplans.org