Sunday morning homily XXIII

To say that hockey players are superstitious is an understatement, like saying that Wayne Gretzky was a good player. Some will only eat the same dish for a pregame meal. Others have a certain way of putting on their equipment. And, during the playoffs, growing a beard, no matter how wispy or itchy, is mandatory.

I noticed another instance of superstition last night in the Ottawa-New Jersey game. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was sporting new equipment, including a catching glove, its fresh colors replacing gear discolored by a season of frozen rubber, ice shavings and hard-earned perspiration. Now, to me, the playoffs would be the worst time to try out, or break in, not just a piece of equipment, but an entire set.

But, after giving up four glove-side goals in New Jersey's opening 5-2 loss to Ottawa, it's my guess that Brodeur realized -- right or wrong -- that the catcher had run out of saves. A switch was made and whatever his reason, it seemed to work. Brodeur's confidence gew with every nifty glove save, keeping the Devils in the game.

It wasn't until New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the second overtime did Brodeur's hunch pay off. Because the Devils won, this seemingly innocent change in equipment would have, for the most part, been unnoticed. It would have been easy to explain the decision, dancing around the role that superstitions may have played.

Had the Devils lost, though, Brodeur's new equipment would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Pundits, including myself, would have viewed the move as the on/off switch of panic. It may have been surmised that Brodeur was losing confidence, not only in his equipment, but in his world-class level of play as well.

Maybe, it's more intuition that superstition, but when it comes to the playoffs, smart teams go with a hot hand. In New Jersey's case, that hand is inside a new glove.

Going naked

Because I'm a 3XL kind of guy, I'm having the darnedest time finding an article of clothing that lets me show my loyalty to the Buffalo Sabres. Sure, I've found a couple of T-shirts at my local Sports Fan Attic, but the sizes down here in fit-and-buff Florida stop at 2XL.

If anyone knows where I can get my fat little fingers on a sizable T-shirt, please pass along that info. Until then, though, I'll happily settle for Colin wearing this Ryan Miller T-shirt he got Friday for his sixth birthday. And after hearing stories about the scarcity of said items in Western New York, I'm not alone.

Besides, should the Sabres' season end triumphantly in June, there's a chance I might find what I'm looking for at the local Wal-Mart. I doubt it, but one never knows.

Don't forget

It's hard to get attention when you're flying under the radar, but the American Hockey League playoffs are hitting high gear. Some teams, such as the Manchester Monarchs, Chicago Wolves and Iowa Stars, have already advanced to division finals. Still, though, there's plenty of playoff games remaining.

Today's marquee matchup is a Game 7 between the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Providence Bruins. Other teams with chances to advance today include the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Sadly, the Rochester Americans, the Sabres' farm team, have been eliminated. We'll have to wait until next year to win the Calder Cup.

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Anonymous jls said...

my next trip to wal mart in olean, i will check for u...if they have one, i will pick it up for u

4:51 PM  
Blogger Puckhound said...

Thanks, man. I have good luck at Wal-Mart with my Tampa Bay Devil Rays T-shirts. They're twice as cheap, too.

6:47 PM  

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