April 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Johan Franzen (93) tries to screen Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Playoffs: How To Prepare For Game One

Mar 24, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings players Cory Emmerton (25) , Ian White (18) and Drew Miller (20) celebrate after a goal in the first period as Anaheim Ducks players Kyle Palmieri (51) , Ben Lovejoy (6) and Luca Sbisa (5) react at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the run the Detroit Red Wings have had in the last week of hockey, you would be hard pressed anyone saying this team is just going to roll over and let Anaheim win without a fight.

With how the Red Wings have played the last four games, it’s hard to keep our excitement in check. Having to battle just to make it into the playoffs makes this first round that much more special. Playoffs always have a different atmosphere to them. Tonight’s game at 10:30pm…it’s electrifying.

We’re used to 10:30pm start times during the regular season and we suffer through them then with very few problems. But with the playoffs comes a completely different feel. There’s that possibility of the third period ending and the game tied. Twenty minute overtimes. Multiple overtimes. Possibly seeing 2am or 3am and not wanting to miss out on a second of the action, even if it’s really boring hockey and you have to get up for work in three hours.

Sacrifice comes with the playoffs. Starting off on the west coast is tough. Trust me, I’ve already planned out making my first cup of coffee at home and stopping on the way into work for an iced latte to save for the afternoon to make it until 5pm. And let’s not forget about going to bed Wednesday evening at 8pm to prepare for Thursday’s 10pm start. You need to plan ahead.

The lack of sleep is always worth it, even when it’s the Ducks, who frustrate fans to no end. Let’s not forget our frustrations from the past, namely my own personal one: Hossa’s called-off goal because the referee lost sight of the puck. This was 1am on my birthday and it may have resulted in an overtime victory and no need for a game seven and more rest before the Stanley Cup Finals…

I’m still bitter about it.

But it’s that kind of bitterness that lingers for quite some time because it’s the playoffs. Every blown call, every missed opportunity etches itself into our minds and we stew over them for years. It creates more tension and more drama than we know what to do with. It’s a serious problem, but we love it anyway.

With how much Red Wings fans hate the Anaheim Ducks, how do we make it through this series (or even a single game) without shooting our televisions to turn them off?

First, for everyone in the Detroit area, they are spared the NBC announcers because Fox Sports Detroit has every game in this series. We can hear Mickey Redmond say, “Watch out!” And give us heart attacks when it’s nothing more than a weird puck bounce in the neutral zone.

Second, it’s important to remember that in case things get a little too crazy in the game and Ken and Mickey aren’t doing a good enough job calming your nerves, you can always hit the mute button.

Third, find comfort in your followers on Twitter. Rather than venting your frustration loudly at 1am and have your neighbors (or family members) call the police on you, type aggressively and scream at Twitter. If you’re like me, the majority of your followers/following lists are Red Wings fans as well, so everyone’s feeds will look like an angry mess. Or happy caps lock spasms.

Fourth, just remember everything that the Red Wings have done in the past week. It doesn’t matter what they looked like the entire season. Remember how terrible the Red Wings were in the latter half of 2009? And then Mike Babcock decided to start Chris Osgood, who was struggling all season, in the playoffs? And yet we somehow made it to seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals when almost everyone had us checking out in the first round.

Jimmy Howard has had two shutouts in the last four games. Henrik Zetterberg has ten points in that same time frame. Johan Franzen is being the Mule we know, the one we love come playoff time, and has four goals (one of them a game-winner, which is what we love him for).

If you get hot at the right time, ladies and gents, that’s what counts. And the Red Wings really seem to be on fire right now.

Let’s play some playoff hockey!

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