When you woke up today, it didn’t feel like Christmas morning, because that would put Santa Claus on the same level as Mini-Me in terms of cultural importance. A Game 7 in the NHL playoffs far exceeds Christmas Day, Easter, and Nudie Magazine Day. It can turn casual fans into a rabid drooling mess for one day, and ensures psychiatric wards in the cities of the teams involved will be overflowing, with fans wearing out the panic button before noon.

So go crazy, go wild, and throw a few things around the office. We’ve intensely followed two months of playoff hockey, and endured six-and-a-half months of a sport that’s played on ice, and now has us watching in shorts and sandals. Insanity in the hours leading up to puck drop at 8 p.m. ET tonight is not only expected, it’s mandatory.

It still has to be managed though, especially for the cup-starved fans in Boston and Vancouver. We know there will be screaming, and TVs will be insulted with an array of verbal venom. Loved ones will be both overjoyed and petrified, and the night will end in either historic, life-changing euphoria, or bitter despair.

You need a plan, and there are some key questions to answer.

Where will you watch the game?

This is your most critical decision, and it lays the foundation for how you’ll remember this night for years. The options are simple, yet crucial:

  • Watch alone: You’ll have your own peaceful space, and if you pursue this option we suggest that you set up a camera aimed directly at your couch, and videotape the entire experience for our viewing enjoyment. This will gloriously backfire if your team crumbles, and you’re left in a dark room covered in puke and repeating the name “Luongo.” But if you’re able to capture that history moment of jubilation on video, it would be really cool to make it into a time lapse, and then mix in some really original music that no one’s ever considered generic.
  • Watch at a house party or a bar: The risks escalate as we creep into more public exposure, especially if you’re a rival fan proudly wearing your jersey in enemy territory. We’ve all done the walk of shame, and it can be a horrible, sometimes physically threatening experience where the ability to dodge projectiles is vital. Sure, it sounds wonderful to share a championship with a group of fans and close friends, but when we consider the consequences, it could get pretty ugly.

Who should you watch the game with?

Closely tied to location, there’s still the matter or who you’re going to carry in your game night entourage. Whether it’s the bar or your living room, you need positive energy. Fans who have already broken that panic button before game time aren’t desirable. You need a sense of Zen, and if you’re a Canucks fan, you need people who echo your complaints about every call.

While we think the safest choice of location is at home with a small gathering of your immediate family, beware of the significant other who isn’t exactly sports savvy. Nothing gets TVs and family heirlooms smashed quicker than a wife or girlfriend who says “don’t worry honey, there’s always next year” immediately after a Stanley Cup Final loss.

What superstitions should you follow?

That’s easy. All of them.

If you go to your favourite watering hole, walk the exact same route that you walked for every game night, making sure not to step on any sidewalk cracks, and taking two minutes to inexplicably stand perfectly still at every curb. When you arrive, you will only accept service from one bartender, and if she doesn’t say the exact same greeting each time you approach the bar, you will not give any acknowledgment.

If you stay at home, be sure to mark the assigned seat of each guest and/or family member with duct tape, and don’t hesitate to use tape liberally while securing small children.

Should you prepare materials for a celebration?

There’s a clear jinx factor here, and hauling flags and a Mark Wahlberg cut-out home will only add to the aforementioned walk of shame.

But this one is worth the risk. If the Canucks win, there’s nothing more rewarding than waving your autographed Dave Babych jersey. That will nicely complement the fake Babych mustache you bought during those sad and violent times of 1994.

Stay safe out there tonight, sports fans. And remember, there’s always next year.