A few months back after the “NHL lockout of which we’ll never speak again” I lamented, nay ranted, at the use of the phrase “Hockey is Back”. After all, for me and so many hockey parents like me, the game we love never went anywhere. However, I and many others didn’t skip a beat in welcoming back the NHL flavour of hockey, which is undoubtedly among the finest in the world. In fact, the condensed 48-game schedule made the games played and watched even that much more exciting as every one had a heightened importance. I’d be in favour of having every season schedule shortened with a Stanley Cup champion crowned sometime in April, though I realize the financial ramifications of such a plan will never see it happen.
But now we’ve entered the second and decidedly more thrilling playoff season. Unfortunately, my beloved Winnipeg Jets were not able to force their way into the dance in the final days of this regular season, but with the Boy’s and Devil’s hockey behind us, my fix will come from watching double overtimes on the left coast until 2am. I don’t just want to….I have to, cuz for us true hockey fans, it’s in the blood don’t ya know. For me it started early on as I recall wearily watching what came to be known as the Easter Epic between Washington and the New York Islanders in 1987, which ended at 1:56am on Easter Sunday. I can still picture Bob Mason standing like he’d been shot after Patty Lafontaine’s winning goal beat him in the 4th overtime of Game 7. This remains the longest Game 7 in NHL history.
And with the first round of this season’s NHL playoffs under way, there has already been no shortage of drama or compelling story lines to keep us fully engaged on the edge of our seats. Ottawa disposed of Montreal in five games, but not without a line brawl and plenty of pugnacity. Just south of me in Toronto, the city has gone wild as their previously sad-sack Leafs are surprisingly holding their own against the Big Bad Bruins. Likewise, the Islanders are giving the Penguins, and particularly their beleaguered goalie Marc Andre Fleury, fits heading into at least a game six. The Minnesotas, who momentarily had to resort to their third string goalie after number one injured himself warming up before game one and number two (who has MS) came up lame as well, were overpowered by a scary, speedy Blackhawks squad. The defending champion LA Kings showed their poise in coming back from a 2-0 deficit to oust the upstart St. Louis Blues with four straight victories. And the Canucks, with their bi-polar goalie problems, exited stage left on the wrong end of San Jose’s broom. The Duck and Red Wings are headed to a Game 7, which may be the only thing better than double overtime. After tonight and tomorrow night, there may yet be a couple more Game 7s to come.
In an effort to aid in my enjoyment and damn-near obsession with all of the playoff hockey yet to come, the fine people at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, an official sponsor and supporter of the NHL and its teams, have graciously provided me with an awesome prize pack, which I will be using in short order to host a friendly little playoff shindig with a few other fans (authorized and possible censored details and pics to follow).
Even better, they’ve offered me an opportunity to share the same with the other fanatics who drop by here from time-to-time. One lucky reader will win:
- a Brookstone Prime Barbeque Kit
- a Coleman 16 qt. Wheeled Cooler
- Mixed nuts to snack on
- a Coby Slim Wall Mountable Sound Bar with Bluetooth Technology
- a $100 Gift Card to use at Shop.NHL.com and,
- some fun Enterprise swag including a couple of stress relievers for when the games get tough and reusable stadium cups to hold beverages of your choosing.
In order to have a chance to win this great prize for your own playoff partay, you need only do three simple things:
- Regale us in the Comments section below with your own favourite NHL playoff memory (yes, even Leaf playoff memories, distant as they may be, are allowed)
- Tell us who you are rooting for in this year’s playoffs
- Provide your email address so I know where to reach you should you win the prize pack
The winner will be decided via random draw and contest entry will close when the final buzzer sounds at the end of the final game in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, so you have lots of time to jar your memory.
In the meantime, you might also want to check out Enterprise’s Hat Trick Challenge online game on NHL.com, where you can play daily to try to predict what happens on the ice or create private leagues and compete against your friends. I’ve signed in and its a pretty cool concept giving you more reasons to cheer, should your own beloved team also be watching from the sidelines.
So Good Luck, Happy Cheering and Go Team (My New Fave Yet to be Decided) Go!
Disclosure: Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the NHL provided me with a gift package to host my watch party as a thank you for writing this post. However, the views and opinions expressed here are purely my own.