The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a stressful time and it doesn’t get any more tense than a game seven. This one game, winner take all showdown will take you through a roller coaster of emotions that weaken even the strongest people. You’ll go from nervousness to confidence to excitement to desperation all in the span of a few minutes.

NHL hockey players go through intense training in order to ensure that they’re able to handle the pressures of game seven.  They work for their entire lives to get to this point.  But what about the fans?  We go through the same emotions and the same stress and yet we don’t have a coaching staff standing by to guide us.

Since there are a few game sevens coming up in the next couple of days, we’ve decided to put together our guide to surviving game seven.

Pray to Whatever Deity You Believe In

We don’t know of any major religion that considers winning a hockey game on par with other major life events, but game sevens call for desperate measures.  Just pretend that your god actually cares who wins the game and pray like crazy.  It’ll make you feel better.

NOTE: If you currently do not believe in any religion, it can seem tempting to quickly join one for the purposes of game seven prayer.  This should never be done.  Why?  Say you decide to join “Religion A” and your team loses the game.  For the rest of your life you’re going to blame yourself for making the wrong choice.  If your team wins?  You’re now stuck being religious forever.  You’re not going to turn your back on the faith that brought your team victory, are you?

Avoid Message Boards and Radio Call-in Shows

Unless you want to hear about a million people blame everything from coaching to refereeing to the lighting in the arena for the fact that some team didn’t wrap this up in four games, you’re going to want to stay away from these forums.  Better yet, you may want to huddle in your home, covered in a blanket until game time.

You’ll also want to stay off of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter during the game.  This will save you from making embarrassing “THIS TEAM IS AMAZING” posts that are closely followed by “I HATE THIS TEAM” posts that are then followed by silence.

Play for the Conditions

If your team came back from a big deficit to force game seven, your mentality at this point will be quite different than if your team blew the lead or if it was a close series all along.  If your team just lost the last couple of games, you’ve likely spent a few days in shock, holding back tears.  However, even if you’re not Roberto Luongo, you may have been under stress for the last little while.  In these situations, it’s important to compose yourself.  You’ll likely want to crawl out from underneath the pile of beer bottles and/or tissues that you’ve lived in for the last little while and pull yourself together.  Don’t both fixing the hole you punched in the wall just yet though… you may have two holes there soon.

If your team is in the process of a remarkable comeback, the most important thing is to calm down.  While you’ve probably been celebrating for quite a while, it’s time to become a realist again.  Anything can happen in game seven.  No matter how great you’re feeling right now, tattooing “2011 Stanley Cup Champions” beside the team logo on your back should only be done after your team actually wins the Cup.

Desperately Search History

This is the time to head to Youtube, HockeyDB and Hockey-Reference.com in a frantic search to find something that supports your team’s chances of victory in game seven.  You’ll likely want to find a big game seven victory from the past that you can lean on as proof that you team can succeed when it matters.  In some cases, finding this victory will require going back several generations.  If you can’t find a game seven victory, any big victory will do, especially if it came against your current opponent.  If all else fails, find a player on your team who is considered “clutch” in big games and use any goal that player has ever scored to reinforce that point.

Secure Your Location

Where are you going to watch this game?  At the arena?  At a bar with your friends?  At home with your loved ones?  Alone in the dark clutching a teddy bear to your chest?  Where you watch the game can seriously dictate how you react to the events that take place.  You’ll be a lot more likely to start a riot if you’re in public than when you’re sitting at home on the couch.  Conversely, crying for hours on end is best done in the privacy of your own home.  You may want to leave the teddy bear behind if you’re going to a bar.

No matter what situation you’re in, game sevens are tough on everyone.  The best you can hope for is survival.  Try and get rested before the game, stay focused, drink lots of fluids and remember that anything can happen.

Good luck.

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