NHL Playoffs: The greatest show in sports

By Matthew Cunha


After the Boston Bruins game 3 loss in overtime vs the Ottawa Senators, I went into a mode of denial that usually exists when your significant other breaks up with you. You did absolutely nothing wrong, your ex is solely to blame, and nothing can convince you otherwise. In the case of game 3, your ex was the referee who called Riley Nash on a roughing call that put the Senators on the power play in OT, where Bobby Ryan ended up scoring the game winner. I could not sleep.


When I woke up unusually early, nothing had gone away. My favorite sports team had just been handed a 2-1 series deficit in what felt like the collapse of a 3-0 series lead. The pain was heightened by the experience of waiting for work to be done to my car and aimlessly scrolling through Tweets from angry Bruins fans. The pain got even worse when I heard the national television broadcast destroy the call, the outrage had branched out and was no longer just a fan based vendetta. After finally getting my car back and sitting in the drive thru line for a much needed coffee, I came to the realization that all the feelings I had experienced since puck drop, is the reason why there is not a tournament that comes close to comparing to the NHL playoffs.


Last night the NHL playoff saw 4 sudden death overtimes in 4 playoff games. All four saw a team down at least two goals force overtime. The prohibited favorite and winners of the regular season (Washington Capitals) now trail 2-1 vs a team (Toronto Maple Leafs) who squeaked its way into playoff. The latest dynasty of hockey (Chicago Blackhawks) trail 3-0 to a team who managed the least points of any playoff team (Nashville Predators), at the same time the Bruins third team is somehow making it a competitive series with the Senators. The unpredictability of the outcomes separates this tournament from any other. The Boston Bruins reminded me of how great a spectacle the NHL playoffs truly is.


The Bruins trailed 3-0, but in the blink of an eye it was 3-3. Then time and again, Boston came within inches and inches from scoring. Then the Senators came inches and inches away from scoring bringing us to overtime. The Bruins got called for a penalty that made me scream so loud that all of Husson could hear, and before you know it “my ex-broke up with me through text” (euphemism) and the Bruins trailed the series 2-1. This one game brought out almost every emotion a man can feel.


That is what I realized in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru line. That it was an honor for the Bruins to just be back in the playoffs. That no other sporting event can send me through a spiral of primal emotions like an NHL playoff game (Ok, the last two Patriots Super Bowls are the exception). Nothing else can make an event on television so real. That it all feels so real, that no event can teach useful life lessons like an NHL playoff game.


Examples of lessons:

Never give up

It’s never over

There is always the next ______

There is two sides to every story

Don’t stop believing

Finally, regardless of what happens, life will go on and it’s never as bad as it seems. Never. Nothing that happens should derail your sense of happiness.


So, as the Bruins move on to tonight’s game 4, I remain optimistic. Game 3 happened on Monday and the series can start anew tonight with a Boston victory. The Bruins should not really be here with this AHL squad in the first place. I got to travel to Boston to take in a part of one of the greatest spectacles on earth. What is there to be upset about besides a stupid NHL official? It’s all good, it’s playoff hockey.
Plus, the Falcons did blow a 28-3 lead.


Matthew Cunha is a producer on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.