The Greatest Thrill Ride in Sports

The playoffs bring out both the most agonizing and exhilarating feelings in fans.  You pull your hair out hoping that your team can score just that one goal to tie the game.  You have your own little silly superstitions from wearing the same jersey to wearing the same socks at every game (gross, but it happens).  But there is nothing, NOTHING, like overtime in the playoffs.

Playoff OT is so great because there’s only two feelings you have.  Absolute malaise or abundant elation.  There is no gray area.  Well, unless you were in Philly last year when Patrick Kane won the cup and he and two other teammates were the only ones that realized it right away.  That moment aside, it really is the greatest thrill ride in sports.  Nowhere in any sport can you end a game so quickly and turn a series or a end a season.  People have tried to tell me football is like that but there is so much stop and go that you don’t get the same adrenaline rush.

I’ll never forget the game that Grant Marshall ended in 2003 against the Lightning.  It was my first year with season tickets and I personally have never experienced a playoff overtime game, in person, before that year.  On TV growing up, I watched all the great endings (McKay and Broten in ’95) and the heartbreaking ones (some team that beat us in ’94).  And yes, that series had an OT in Game 2 but it was over in two and a half minutes that you never really settled into it.  This game went to three overtimes.  With the “new NHL”, if a game goes into two OTs it’s considered a marathon.  But these were the “dead puck era” days.  The times when each round and seemingly every series had at least one multi-OT game.  And this wound up being the longest multi-OT game at home in Devils history.

As each shot went off a stick I was either cowering that Marty would make the save and hope that John Grahame would whiff with his glove or it would hit someone in front and the puck would go in.  But that didn’t happen until a little after midnight.  Thank God it was  Friday night.  Watching hockey for about five hours can be draining on you.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for a player.  You may have heard the stories of IVs and oranges between OT periods.  I remember noticing fans around me taking cat naps to get through the intermissions.  What made it worse was this was before smart phones so you just had to sit there and ponder what may happen.  It was torture.  Absolute torture.  Then deep into the 3rd overtime, just when thought of “Really?!? another one?” crept into your heads, this happened….

The thing I remember most was jumping up and down out of my seat high up the Continental Airlines Arena screaming “IT’S OVER! IT’S OVER! WE DID IT!” and when my best friend Steve asked who scored I demonstratively screamed “ELIAS!”….Yeah, totally missed it.  Little did I know I was completely wrong but hey, look, sit through three OTs and see what you remember when your team scores the goal to win it and you don’t have the benefit of Doc’s amazing call.  At least they were on the same line!

Hockey playoffs are regarded as the best playoffs in sports.  And OT is the biggest reason why.  It will terrify you, make you happy.  It will make you pray.  It will put fear into your heart and give you the biggest calm after it’s over.  It definitely is the greatest thrill ride in sports.

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Posted on April 20, 2011, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, Prudential Center, Season Tickets, Social Media, Tampa Bay Lightning, The Rock, Uncategorized, Win. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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