The 59th in our 118-part series.
The First Warm Day of the Playoffs
Here in lovely Central New Jersey we’ve had a week of cool, Autumnal rainy days. It’s been refreshing, but in the back of our minds, the joy of thinking Fall is here has been tempered by the knowledge that it’s going to get hot and sticky and humid again very, very soon. As depressing as this is, it also reminds us of the beginning of the Playoffs and the giddiness inherent in that first April day that feels well and truly warm. While we hate Summer and everything it stands for, we’ve got no beef with Spring, often getting uncontrollable Spring Fever as early as December 31st. But that first warm day of the Playoffs signals more than just days getting longer and and trees getting greener — it means hockey is building to its frenzied finish. With the way the Devils have been playing since… well, since 2003, this should send us into the very depths of dismay, but who can’t help but feel like good times are coming when you can walk outside without a coat for the first time in months, warmed not only by the brighter-shining sun, but also by the knowledge that there’s a first-round night’s worth of playoff hockey waiting for you at home? The first warm day of the playoffs means enjoying getting the arena 90 minutes early, so as to sit outside reading a book before the doors officially open. It means reveling in all the space cleared up around your seats by not having to bring your bulky coat to the arena with you. It means rolling down the car windows to blast your new lucky playoff music. We here at IPB have a theory about Spring and how it relates to the Playoffs. The blooming flowers, the signing birds, the blue skies dotted with cheerfully puffy clouds — they all exist to calm us down from the nervous tension the Playoffs bring about. And they bring good cheer and soothing balm to those unfortunate souls whose teams didn’t make the cut. If the Playoffs happened in dreary January or February, none of us would survive to see the next season.