Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tie game

At the close of the third period of Game Five, I found myself succumbing to my negative feelings for the first time all series. Given that the Sabres had squandered a 3-0 first-period lead and were being taken to overtime, my bad mood was hardly unreasonable, but that didn't make it any more enjoyable, which was the whole point of my "expect nothing" strategy. Luckily I had the intermission before OT to reflect on the game and center myself.

Once I reasoned it out, I realized that there were in fact only two ways the game could go: either the Sabres were going to score and win, in which case it wouldn't matter that they had ever given away a 3-0 lead, or they were going to be scored on and lose, in which case it wouldn't matter that they ever had a 3-0 lead in the first place. In short, we were right back to where we were at the start of the game, when I had been prepared to see them lose. Why should I feel any differently just because a half-dozen goals had been scored? Forget those goals. The next one was all that mattered.

That game and the next, which had a similar plot but an opposite ending, were a crash course in what I think will be the greatest lesson I will take away from this series: No lead is safe in the playoffs, which is okay, because most playoff games aren't won by holding big leads. They're won by breaking ties.

Forget Games 1-6. The next one is all that matters.

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