Pete DeBoer is a big-time refresher these days. He punches iPhone buttons faster than a teenager texting friends checking on the results of games involving the teams the Golden Knights are chasing to make the playoffs.
He’s also a little superstitious.
“I’ll refresh the phone if a game is going the way I want,” said the Golden Knights coach. “But if it isn’t, I’ll turn it off and not go back to it until it’s over.”
Example: DeBoer kept track of Sunday’s game between the Kings (who are among those the Knights are fighting for a playoff spot) and Wild until Los Angeles led 3-0.
The next thing he knew about the game, Minnesota had won 6-3.
“I hadn’t checked a thing,” DeBoer said.
It is a sport unto itself, that which can drive even the most rational among us a tad batty. It’s an obsession for many as the playoffs draw near.
Fighting like crazy
I get it. I’ve been known to pause a television screen five or 20 times when the margin doesn’t meet my liking. I’ll fast-forward through innings or quarters or periods while squinting to see if my favorite team has overcome a deficit.
I punch iPhone buttons like they’re going out of style.
Hi. My name is Ed and I’m a habitual refresher.
It’s a concept that has finally gripped fans of the Golden Knights.
And, well, coaches and players.
DeBoer’s team is fighting like crazy to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, now in control of its destiny with seven games remaining. If it wins all seven, it’s in.
More likely, things will come down to a precious few. Perhaps even a season’s final game.
DeBoer went through this once before, his first year as an NHL head coach in Florida in 2008-09. His team eventually tied Montreal for a final playoff spot and lost in a tiebreaker.
It’s not just him. It was a few weeks ago when the Knights —with about 15 games to go — met to discuss standings and schedules and playoff odds. To understand what it would take to reach the postseason. To be clear on the challenge ahead.
“I’ll check and watch games, but I’m trying to be more focused on our side of things,” said forward Jonathan Marchessault. “It doesn’t drive me crazy watching. I’m not superstitious.”
Not like DeBoer?
“He’s a coach,” said Marchessault, “so he overthinksthings a bit.”
Here’s the wacky part: This could prove the absolute best thing for the Knights should they qualify.
They have been locked into a playoff-like intensity for some time now, each game magnified by its importance in a much bigger picture. There will be no lull at the end of a regular season, no level of comfort like those who long before clinched a berth. No fear of bad habits creeping in at the worst of times.
There is more positive than negative to such a truth.
“Now we have to get in,” DeBoer said.
It hasn’t been this way for the Knights until now. In five years of existence, the closest they came to worrying about results down the stretch was 2018-19. Still finished third in the Pacific Division, seven points clear of Arizona.
No, this is a whole new world of nerves and intrigue and sweaty palms under those gloves when clutching sticks.
Tweets from fans are endless.
What did Dallas do?
Who does Nashville play?
Have you seen the Kings’ easy schedule?
Is that Marc-Andre Fleury saving the Knights again by winning for the Wild?
Believe it. Social media doesn’t miss a shot or goal.
Things are even tougher for DeBoer. All that scoreboard watching can be somewhat frustrating in his Summerlin neighborhood.
“I’m taking up a collection to get better wireless,” he said. “It’s awful. I have to stand in my backyard to make a phone call.”
Difficult to keep track of things that way.
Takes a whole lot of refreshing.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.