Last night’s Game 3 between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks encapsulated the best things about hockey: the speed, the excitement, and most importantly, the uncertainty. The game started out as a white wash, with the Kings mopping the ice with the Sharks as they had done previously in Game 2. Up 4-0, the game seemed all but over. I was paying attention to the game at the bar, and was furious. I wanted to see some exciting hockey tonight, and with the high holidays surrounding us, I thought my message would get through to any of the big 3 (God, Yahweh, Jerry.) When I arrived home, the game was early in the second, with the Sharks on the board, 4-1. A few beers later and I was grateful to be witnessing arguably the best game of this young Playoffs. Knotted 5-5 with about 8 minutes left in the third, it was clear to me this game was going to be ended in the most spectacular of fashion: in overtime.
Say the words “overtime” to any sports fan and it triggers all sorts of memories. Staying up late as a kid, watching as the game went into the 10th inning, and then the 12th inning, and then the 18th inning. Participating in your own overtime, whether it was at the little league, high school, collegiate, or even at the recreational level. Watching at the bar with a collection of fans with mixed allegiance pulling for the greater good…
…only to grieve as a collective.
Keep reading after the jump.
Each sport has its own overtime, with its own quirks. In the NBA overtime truly favors the teams that can stick to the fundamentals of basketball, with the team that can string together 2 or 3 baskets in a row seemingly winning the extra frame. Not often does basketball go three or four extra sessions deep into the night, but when it does it’s something to be remembered. NFL overtime is a tricky beast, with a little bit of luck involved. Soccer’s overtime is just a longer version of the game, for better or worse. When it’s worse, trust me, it’s bad. Hold on a second… I need a moment.
John Terry knows no mercy.
Baseball is a fantastic example of how the extra session can become either dull and routine, or something twisted and mad. Most games seem to be decided in the more mundane fashion, usually by the 11th or 12th. But every once in a while, the game seems to suffer an acid flashback, as we play over two games and fielders become pitchers. It’s this glorious madness of uncertainty that carries over to NHL hockey, and more specifically, playoff overtime. The only way to make the best tournament in sports better? Keep it going all night. I watched that game, from puck drop to the final goal. Fucking loved it. The worst part of the game? That overtime winner. I didn’t want the game to end. I wanted a 6th overtime. I wanted a 9th overtime. I wanted Marty Turco passing out on the ice after watching over 100 shots fly at his face. I wanted the game to end 10 minutes before I had to go to school the next day. Hell, I wanted the game to be my excuse to stay home the next day. Because when that game was over, it meant the night was over. It meant we were one day closer to the end of the playoffs. It meant I was one day closer to next season. One day closer to next year. And so on. The special thing about overtime, at least to any one but the fans of the two teams involved, is that we get to enjoy the game we love just a little bit longer. We get to enjoy another beer with friends and loved ones. We get to enjoy a story for the next day. We get to enjoy the fact that we’re not alone, as we know there are countless others out there witnessing what we are witnessing. That’s the key word in all this, witnessing.
Dammit, no not you.
As last night’s game went into the first overtime, I was giddy. Would I be seeing a quick winner. A marathon game? Who would be the hero. 3:09 into the first extra frame, we got our answer. Sure I was upset that it was over so quick, but at the same time, I was just happy to be along for the ride. After all, you’re advertised a 60 minute (or 9 inning, or 48 min (NBA?))game, so anything over is free. And who doesn’t love free stuff.