NHL playoffs begin today.

Post-season. Aka, the REAL season.

The pressure's a bit different now.

                                                                                                                                                                         photo by j-allen

                                                                                                                                                                         photo by j-allen

More at stake.  National TV.  Family asking, How was practice?  Friends asking, Got any extra tickets?  Coaches snapping their gum. Teammates, strangely, quiet.  Fans, more than ever, everywhere.  Wearing your jersey.  You don't want to let them down.  Or your family, or your friends, or your team, or your coaches, or your town, or….

The higher the stakes, the greater the distractions.

Sixteen teams remain.

The one who hoists the Stanley Cup will be the team who remembers it's still the same sport as it was at the start of the season, some 80+ games ago.

Same goal.  Same focus.  Same practice.