Three and a half minutes into game three of the Western Conference quarterfinal, I was thinking I didn't have enough beer to get me through this kind of game.
Three goals down, Calgary looked like they had forgotten what sport they were supposed to be playing. Fortunately, Mike Keenan remembered.
After the third goal, Keenan could have called a time out. Most coaches would. Instead, he pulled Kiprusoff and placed Curtis Joseph between the pipes.
Curtis Joseph? Yes, remember that signing which left a lot of pundits scratching their heads? Well, it looks pretty good right about now.
Joseph shut the door on the Sharks and provided a steadying presence for the rest of the game. The boys picked up their feet, started throwing their weight around, and played the style of gritty Flames hockey fans have come to love.
Two of the game's stars have been dismissed several times in their careers as being washed up and done. Owen Nolan has been fighting against that stigma all season with solid play on Calgary's special teams; tonight, he became the team's saviour with a puck thrown toward the crowded net that somehow found its way through.
I jumped around. I yelled at the TV. I furiously texted friends from coast to coast. For a moment, I even forgot about the beer.
Why? Because this type of game, my friends, is what playoff hockey is all about.
It's about refusing to lie down, about perseverance, hard work, and the pure joy of competition.
That's exactly why guys like Nolan and Joseph are on this team with all-stars like Iginla. When the chips are down, they know what to do. They are hungry for that Cup.
Me? I'm making sure the fridge is well-stocked for Tuesday, because you can be sure the Sharks will come out snapping once again.
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