It is finally here, and I had to pinch myself to make sure this isn't still a dream. The Dallas Stars are playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- with home ice advantage, no less. And not just this round, but every Western Conference round. Because the won the conference. THEY WON THE CONFERENCE, GUYS AND GALS.
Still feels weird to say out loud.
It's hard to put into real words what today brings for me. There's so many emotions, and then there's this sense of needing to be productive at work (because I love my job) while also counting down the hours until I head to the American Airlines Center. So here are my confessions for today, this Game 1 day.
Confession: I'm scared.
I'm scared that this team has overperformed all year long and will deliver the soul-crushing blow in the post-season as opposed to regular season instances like, as a just for instance, that time they just needed to win and get in. Know who beat them to keep them from the playoffs that year? The Minnesota Wild. That same opponent they now face off against in a best-of-seven series.
I'm scared because all of a sudden national people are looking at this Stars team that I've followed all season long and think they're some kind of sexy pick to go a few rounds. Whenever they've had that kind of hype, they've often wilted in the bright lights of attention. I'd rather take national irrelevance than a face-first dive off of a stage in front of those national people. Can you just not pay attention to this team for a little while longer, so that they can prove us wrong and show they're ready to take that next step towards contention? Maybe?
Confession: I'm so excited I can't sit still.
Clock reads 10:42 AM. Do some work. Look at clock again. Just 10:47 AM now. Check that clock is working correctly (it is). Sigh. Can you go faster?
I re-watched that first home game of the Anaheim Ducks series two years ago last night. The atmosphere was electric. I got goosebumps thinking about being part of it again tonight. I snagged a ticket, I'm sitting by myself, but I'll be surrounded tonight by 18,000ish of my Stars family tonight. We'll breathe it all in together. It's going to be phenomenal, and I anticipate everyone will be loud and proud tonight.
Confession: I want to prove people wrong.
For every time that we've heard Stars fans aren't "true" hockey fans. For every time that the team we love has been dismissed due solely to location below the Canadian border. For every time a national broadcaster or media member can't get the roster right. For every time I was questioned on my loyalty and knowledge of the game due to my gender or the color of the team I wear.
I want to prove every single one of those people wrong in the best way: a complete demolition of the first round opponent. To show the Stars are relevant among the NHL, and that the loyalty we have to this sport is just as fierce as any other fanbase.
As Jamie Benn said yesterday "This is the best time. This is playoff time. And this is a hockey town."
Let's Go Stars.