Finally, the playoffs are back. Meaningful hockey is upon us. Our first, and hopefully not only, opponent are the Buffalo Sabres.
This past weekend and the final two games are meaningless history now. Yes, we won the division and maintained the 2nd spot in the conference to set up this playoff matchup. Forget that, it doesn’t matter anymore. Some teams are just happy to be here (Rangers, Blackhawks) because they needed help to get in. Both are good, but now they’re playing with house money. For us, expectations are high.
I wasn’t here last year, but I really believe the situation with this team is that it lost a tough finals to Chicago, and the first 40 to 45 games this season, we were clicking on all cylinders; I think subconsciously the guys said, ‘OK, we know we can do it and last year wasn’t a fluke. Now we just want the playoffs to start and make up for what happened last year.’ And I think we kind of put it in cruise control after that,” he said. “That’s not a good thing to do, but we got ahead or ourselves, looked forward to the spring and ran into a bunch of teams playing for their lives. We just didn’t have that extra 10 to 15 percent that you need, and we lost a lot of games because of it.
It’s not some media bullshit; it’s not panicky fans. The players who talk to the media readily admit that they took their foot of the gas pedal and coasted towards the playoffs. Well now it’s do or die. Now is the time to put everything together and hopefully achieve the final goal. I got one of those promotional emails from the Flyers today, and it looks like their slogan for the playoffs is “With all of our will…we will.” That hits the nail right on the head. We’ve got the skill, we’ve got the depth, all we need is that drive. The NHL playoffs is the longest, most grueling tournament amongst any sport. It takes more than luck to keep winning. I do agree some teams were flukes, but it’s rare. 3 more days, I can’t wait.
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