Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Look, Ethel!

At the end of my last blog, we had just extended our winning streak to a season-high five games. I ended my blog there because that was where the streak ended (I like ending on a high note). The 2-month span since has been a whirlwind. I can't believe the season has ended, but as I sit here writing this I'm taking a break from packing for our first playoff game tomorrow.

Our season could best be characterized as streaky. We had 4 separate winning streaks of 3 games or more (including streaks of 4 games and 5 games). We also had 3 separate losing streaks of 3 games each. Our 5-game winning streak pulled our record to one game over .500 for the first time this season (just past the halfway point of our season), and our record since the streak was also one game over .500 (giving us an overall 29-27 record, two games above .500). You could say we were consistently inconsistent...but I would prefer to say that we were consistent for short intervals. We'd be good for a couple of games, then bad for a game or two. Then we'd be good for three games, then bad for two. Our peaks and valleys were like the streets of San Francisco (the actual streets, not the TV show).

All of that pretty much goes out the window at this point. Once the regular season ends, a new season begins and the slate is wiped clean. Anything can happen. It doesn't matter where you finished in the standings or what your record was against a given team (on that note...our record against Huntsville was 4-5). For that matter, it doesn't matter that we won the last three meetings against the Havoc (including two in Huntsville). What matters is how you play in Game 1 (especially in a best-of-three format). Only time will tell how that will play out, but I like the way we've been playing lately. I think we have a good team, and the right kind of team to go deep into the playoffs. I know we haven't shown it consistently enough, but I'm hoping the boys will rise to the challenge now that the real season is upon us.

After a recent game in the Snakepit, I passed one of the opposing team's players on his way out to the bus. I wished him safe travels, then he said something interesting...he wished us well and said he hoped they didn't run into us in the playoffs. This was a top-tier team and they were worried about us. Come to think of it, we have been a bit of a wild card. You never know what team is going to show up, so you're never quite sure how to play us. Do you come out strong and physical, hitting everything in sight? If so, you risk waking a sleeping tiger (and that's not something I would recommend). Do you play us soft and timid and hope that we sleepwalk through the game? I've seen teams do that against us with some success. The thing is, when we come to play we can beat any team in this league...and they know that. Now we just have to make sure we come to play every night.

As you've probably heard by now, Game 1 will not be played at the Havoc's usual home, the Von Braun Center. Instead, the game will be played at their practice rink (which only holds 600-800 people, depending on who you believe). This could be a decided advantage to the Havoc, since they are used to this building and we've never skated there. One would also imagine the atmosphere would be very lively with about 700 of their most ardent fans jammed into a place roughly the size of a garage. It will be interesting to see how each team responds to the unusual venue. That will go a long way towards deciding who wins this series. But in the end, as always, it will largely be determined by which team wants it more and works the hardest. That's where I think we have the advantage. We shall see.

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