RICKTER SCALE: Hockey hopes run in hits and misses

Puck-eyed optimism often tempered by reality

If I wrote this two weeks ago, it would have reeked of the vitriol you reserve for your worst enemy. Or, it may have sounded like the ramblings of some poor soul on death row counting down to an end that draws nearer with each passing day.

Two weeks ago, the Montreal Canadiens were sinking in a quagmire so deep that each defeat seemed to spiral further into a bottomless pit. They couldn’t score, they couldn’t skate; they looked like a team a team that had cashed it in.

Adding to the misery, Carey Price was once again on the sidelines dealing with a “minor injury” shrouded in enough mystery that it was beginning to feel like two years ago when he was shut down for the season.

The lowest point was a conversation with my brother, where I screamed for the heads of the coach and GM to plop into the crapper because the team I watched the night before –my brother knows better than to ever call after a loss – looked terrible in a 6-0 beat down on home ice by the hated Leafs.

They looked so lost that you would be accused of having misplaced most of your marbles for even whispering any thought of making the playoffs.

Less than a fortnight later, or two weeks for all you youngsters out there, Price is back and playing at his best. And the team that couldn’t find the back of the net with a compass has reeled off five wins in a row, scoring 16 in the last two games. Even the most skeptical Montreal fan would be hard-pressed to write them off just yet, as long as the team performs the way it is playing now.

That puck-eyed optimism, however, is also tempered by the reality that two weeks from now could find me cursing everything that is Canadien into my keyboard once again.

It’s strange and confusing how the fates of a team so far away, a group you’re only connected to by television, can have such a stranglehold on your psyche for parts of autumn, winter and spring.

If you’re a Vancouver fan, there’s a new found sense of confidence sparked by the addition of promising young players that has you feeling like your team is finally ready to run with the big dogs again. Jets, Flames and Leafs fans may even be dreaming of a shot at the Stanley Cup. Senators and Oilers fan, however, are wondering how the promise of getting so close last year has unravelled so quickly.

Whatever logo you wear on your heart or sleeve, remember that how good you feel today can do a complete 180 after two more weeks have rolled off the calendar. Never get too high or too low, just go with the flow. Great advice I’m happy to share, but unable to follow for reasons I can’t clearly explain.

•••

Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist, who for whatever reason has an undying love for the Habs.

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