For six teams, the playoffs begin tonight, but for my Blackhawks, it’s going to be Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. I really hope that the Blues continue their slump and go four and out. In fact, I’m expecting that, so it should totally happen, right?

Overall, I’m feeling a bit bittersweet about the playoffs. After a whole 82 game season of having NHL Gamecenter, I’ve grown used to watching hockey (almost) every day. I’m too cheap to buy cable or satellite TV, especially at the package levels that would get me NBC Sports Network, so that means my watching-hockey-on-TV-from-the-comfort-of-my-home-every-night days have passed.

For the playoffs are aired only on NBC networks. And while I’m glad to see that they’re planning on airing two games on Sunday, as well as one on Saturday, on the free over the air national broadcast I’m still disappointed that I can’t watch every single game at my leisure, pants-optional, at home, for a reasonable price. I’ll have to strike out to a place that provides visitors with cable or satellite television viewing for the mere price of a pitcher or two of beer.

The first year I was into hockey, that place was Hooters. The next two seasons, my husband and I would head over to Table Rock, as it was in easy walking distance of our apartment at the time. But now we’re in a new apartment and the choices are different. So this year, I’m going to hold a playoff of my own and pit nearby sports bars against each other for the honor of being my new go-to spot for the NHL Playoffs!

Round one will include the newly installed Tilted Kilt (I hear the food is terrible at this chain, but it is close), Busters Sports Bar (I know nothing about this place), Cheerleaders (relatively close, I hear it’s got good food), The Refuge (found using Google Maps, looks a wee bit fancy), the Ram (also on the fancy side) and the Eastside Tavern (biking distance, which might count against it).

From these, a comprehensive testing will reveal those that make it to round two, based on atmosphere, beer, price and distance from my apartment.

Round two will be a hard fought battle for the right to be the place where I toast the Stanley Cup Champions.

Unless those Champions are not my Chicago Blackhawks.

In which case, the prize will be the right to be the place where I drown my sorrows in anticipation of a better playoff run next year. . .

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