Hockey playoffs nice diversion during lull

Forgive me if I have to take a break midway through today’s column. I may have to mow the lawn. I just did it a few hours ago, but I think it needs it again.

Prime growing conditions must be coming together because I swear the grass is growing faster than the mower can keep up. I’ve been liking our regular rain showers the last couple of weeks, but apparently not as much as the grass.

Oh, well, I’ll just have to crank up the ol’ walk-behind again and call it exercise.

Excitement on ice

Here’s a sentence I’m not sure I would have ever guessed I would write: I was a little delayed getting started this week because I was watching a hockey game.

There wasn’t a lot of exposure to hockey while growing up in North Platte in the 1970s, so I’ve never been real engaged with the sport. Anyone around for the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 can’t help but check in on hockey every four years during the Winter Olympics. But day to day? Not so much.

However, in recent years I’ve adopted the idea that NHL hockey is good to watch during the playoffs. Even better, Game 7 of a hockey playoff series. And the best, a sudden-death overtime to decide a Game 7. Overtime in playoff hockey means they’ll skate until someone makes a goal, and then it’s over.

It can happen in a flash, or it can take hours. You just don’t know going in. There were two Game 7s this week. I caught at least a portion of each of them.

The first one was a one-goal game, so the end was exciting. But the other trumped it with sudden-death overtime. This one was settled in less than seven minutes when Chicago scored to beat Detroit.

But I recall a game in the past that had me up well past midnight. It went multiple periods of overtime before it was decided.

I think they’re down to the final four teams in the playoffs (see how closely I pay attention). The next series starts this weekend, so it will be a little while before we know if there’s another Game 7 in the offing. But if there is, I’ll probably try to watch.

If you think you might want to check out a little playoff hockey, there’s one other tradition in the sport worth seeing. No matter how many games it takes, when one team eliminates the other, the teams meet at center ice in double lines to shake hands. You might see that in Little League baseball every game, but in pro sports, it’s not too common.

It’s nice to see them keep the tradition alive, even though they’re only seconds removed from knocking each other around all over the ice.

Even though hockey in June is a little hard to get one’s arms around, it’s nice that the playoffs stretch out this long. There’s not much else on worth watching, so a hockey game can be a nice diversion.

Plus, I’m OK with watching most any sport when all else fails. I think it’s my ultimate reality TV, and I don’t even have to call in a vote to help decide who wins.

More normal, please

So we turn the page on the calendar tomorrow to start a new month as June is upon us. Seems like it was just less than a month since we were scooping snow. Oh, wait, it was less than a month ago. Here’s hoping June goes a little more by the book than its predecessor.

Snow, wind, rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, 100-degree temperatures — we’ve had it all this month. There might even have been a day or two of spring.

The unofficial start to summer was last weekend’s Memorial Day holiday, complete with yo-yoing gas prices that shot way up and have now settled down a little again. We have 34 days until our next holiday. Who knows what will happen by then.

Just remember if it gets to be too much to keep track of, I’ve given you a potential distraction to help you cope.

The hockey season should get over just in time for the Fourth of July.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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