... I can feel the soil falling over my head
And as I climb into an empty bed, oh well...
Carolina had a very steep uphill climb starting with a Tuesday night game in Tampa. They knew that they would have to win the remainder of their games and get a bit of help from the likes of Montréal, Toronto, and even Tampa if they wanted to sneak their way into the playoffs.
For about 28 minutes, it looked like they were on their way to helping themselves.
... I know it's over, still I cling.
I don't know where else I can go...
The Canes got a first period marker from Ray Whitney and an early second period goal from Rod Brind'Amour to build a 2-0 lead. Things were looking up for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Eric Perrin gave the '04 Champs life at 8:33 of the second, but after 40 minutes, Carolina still led 2-1. Things were still looking good.
Vinny LaCavalier tied the score at 1:20 of the third, and suddenly things were not okay. This was one of those "backbreaking" goals. Less than two minutes later, things went from grey to black. Danny Boyle scored what would prove to be the game winner at 3:13 of the third.
I know it's over
And it never really began
But in my heart it was so real
Carolina had a couple of quality chances very late in the game, but it was already a foregone conclusion at that point. The tiny consolation is that Carolina was not getting the help they needed anyway. Montréal defeated Boston 2-0. Either outcome made the other moot in terms of Carolina's wafer thin playoff hopes.
When the final horn sounded, it became official. Carolina will not make the playoffs. They'll be on Pinehurst #2 while 16 teams fight for the holiest of all grails.
Love is natural and real
But not for you my love.
Not tonight my love
This is the first time in the history of the NHL that both Stanley Cup finalists from the previous season fail to qualify for the playoffs. This, of course, will be cannon fodder for some fans who think Carolina was gifted the Cup last summer.
Still, though, there is nary a Maple Leaf who was even alive the last time Toronto won the Cup. And there are fourteen active franchises who have never won it.
This summer, I'm hoping that Vancouver can be crossed of that list.