Monday, April 13, 2009

Four by Four

This morning, 16 teams have dreams of winning 16 games. Only one team will do it, the other 15 becoming a fading afterthought as time goes by. The idea of “16” is what appears in the calendar on the right, a nod to what is the ultimate objective here.

But that’s not how things are done in the playoffs, or how they will be done over the next nine weeks. The temptation to think about “16” obscures the fact that a team can win the Stanley Cup only through the simple isometry of winning four, four times. And in that there is a guide to keep you, dear reader, from losing sleep over the fortunes of your favorite team.

Somewhere along the line, teams will stumble, even that team that will win the ultimate prize. Fans will furrow their brows and gnash their teeth with every goal allowed, every loss their team endures. A loss in game one, or even game two will no doubt inspire wails of despair that all is lost.

It would do well for fans to remember, it’s not first to “one,” it’s first to “four.” It is only in the latter that a team can advance to the next opportunity to win four games. Do it four times, and you get to skate around the rink with a trophy that will no doubt seem light as a feather.

However, if your team loses one game, or two, take solace in the fact that to get to “16,” the object is to get to “four”…four times.