- TAILGATING. This is a longstanding tradition in college football and the NFL all over the nation. Folks show up several hours before the game starts, set up grills in the parking lot, cook food, drink beer, toss the football, and just hang out until just before game time. As far as I know, nobody else in the NHL has a tailgating tradition, but we've been doing it ever since the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs, and we even have people doing it during the regular season here. During the first round, I never arrived more than 30 minutes before puck drop, and I had to park in an auxiliary lot where there isn't a lot of tailgating. Round two, I always got there early enough to drink beer in the parking lot and smell the wonderful smells of chargrilled meat.
As a very important point of clarification, I said people set up GRILLs and COOK food. Not "barbecue". Around here you might get murdered for misusing the word "barbecue". Barbecue is a noun, not a verb. You never "barbecue" some chicken. You grill some chicken. As I said, it is a noun, but it doesn't refer to the grill, or to a party you have in your back yard. You don't haul out the "barbecue". You haul out the grill. You don't have folks over for a "barbecue". You invite them over for a cookout. I should emphasize that you never, EVER say (write) "barbeque", or worse, "bar-b-q". Those are unacceptable bastardizations .
Barbecue, my puck-loving friends, is tender, juicy meat that has been slow-cooked in a pit over a wood fire, pulled or shredded, and seasoned with a vinegar-and-pepper based sauce. None of this sugary tomato (or ketchup) based garbage. And I mean slooooooow-cooked. 12 hours. Preferably using indirect heat. Although beef is marginally acceptable in places like Texas and Missouri, we're really talking about pork here. And although some folks are into getting "pork shoulder" from a butcher, the proper technique is to roast the entire pig. Given a couple days notice, any butcher or foodservice purveyor can supply a whole hog at the weight of your choosing. The event at which the pig is roasted is called a "pig pickin'". Not a "barbecue". You eat barbecue, not "barbecued pork".
I digress. Back to the point.
A lot of folks make banners and/or posters to bring to the game. In some places like New Jersey, you're not allowed to bring signs, banners, flags, anything like that. Luckily, we're not one of those places where the arena security stifles the fans. During the regular season, you don't see much signage unless it's somebody's birthday. During the playoffs, though, they come out like crazy. Here's one made by some people that I happened to meet in the parking lot just before game five. The craftsmanship on this sign is much less shoddy than many signs I've seen, but still leaves a little to be desired. Nonetheless, it was great for a giggle.
- MEN'S ROOM CONVERSATION. During the regular season, there usually isn't much of a line for the restrooms, and even when there is, there isn't much conversation. During the playoffs, nobody leaves their seat during play, so the intermissions are the only time the restrooms are being used. So there's always a big crowd, and lots of conversation. I overheard some great stuff including this exchange during the first intermission of game 5:
Guy 1: So, how do you think we'll match up against Buffalo?
Guy 2: Hey, hey, hey! We still have to win this series. Let's not get ahead of ourselves! No sense in putting the.... the... um....
Guy 3: horses in one basket?
Guy 4: Chicken before the horse?!
A little kid, not getting the silly humor in the moment, proudly corrected the intentional misuse of the "chickens before they hatch" expression.
We've got a few days off before the start of round 3 on Saturday. I'll try to come up with better material than this in the meantime.