Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"It's playoff-time. Where's the buzz, Pittsburgh?"

I was listening to sports talk radio last night and the host mentioned that he didn't sense the usual buzz from Penguins fans the night before the start of their team's first round playoff match-up against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I quickly changed the station, not because I was afraid of finding out why there wasn't much of a buzz, but because I seem to hear this topic brought up on the eve of the playoffs in every sport.

Whether it's the Pitt Panthers preparing for the NCAA tournament or even the Steelers set to start the NFL playoffs, radio hosts are always questioning our lack of excitement. What do they want us to do? Have a parade before the playoffs start?

Just like with athletes, fans don't want their enthusiasm to peak too soon, especially in the NHL playoffs where your favorite team must win 4-series and could play as many as 28 games. You want the excitement to build with each round. I remember back to the Steelers memorable march to their 5th Lombardi trophy. At the beginning of the team's 8-game winning-streak, the fans weren't necessarily acting giddy, but as time went along and it looked like something special was about to happen, the enthusiasm of the fans rose to a fever-pitch.

This is Pittsburgh. We're used to winning. We've witnessed 3 Super Bowls and 2 Stanley Cup Finals over the last 6 years. You think we're going to go nuts and wear ourselves out before the first round starts? That's what rookies do. We've learned to pace ourselves.

Besides, if there was ever a time when it was okay for Pens fans to be cautious it's this season. The team is heading into the postseason without its two best players-Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

This is just a guess, but I think the fans want to tread lightly before investing too much emotion in their team's quest to bring home Lord Stanley.

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