Nothing like the playoffs

JOE WARMINGTON -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:26 PM ET

 There's just nothing like playoff hockey.

 From the amazing national anthem performance by Michael Burgess to the announcement of the three stars, it's worth every penny.

  Throw in it being the Battle of Ontario and that it's on a Saturday night and you can't help but thank your lucky stars that you're a Canadian.

 And last night's tilt between the Senators and Leafs didn't disappoint. No matter what team you're for, these games are almost hard to watch.

 "It's getting harder," says Doug Gilmour, who is experiencing his first season of not being a player.

 Last year while healing up his knee there was still hope to get out there and play but now he's in the seats biting his nails like everybody else.

 It sure can get tense sometimes.

 "I love it," said a smiling Nikolai Borschevsky, who was at his first game in a while. "And I love the Leafs."

 He admits being there last night and feeling the energy of the Leaf fans brought back memories of that incredible playoff run back in 1993. "The fans are great," he said.

 Of course that year he scored a big overtime winner against Detroit and he says there's rarely a day goes by when someone doesn't bring it up.

 "That sure was a nice feeling," he said of scoring that goal. "I am glad people are still remembering that."

 These days Nik is living up in Richmond Hill and operating the Nikolai Borschevsky Hockey School -- with one of the star pupils being none other than 10-year-old Nikolai Borschevsky Jr.

 "Next year he's going to play for Toronto Red Wings minor pewee," he said.

 So could we have another Borschevsky on his way to the NHL? "Who knows?" he says, laughing. "I hope so."

 Like all the previous battle of Ontario series this one looks like it's going to be a rollercoaster ride.

 "I think Ottawa is going to win in the end," said Sens fan Mario Maniscaoco, who with pals John Pan, Ivano Veltri and Even McCoy said they found Leafs fans "pretty classy."

 That's nice to hear because at the end of the day it's just a hockey series -- although sometimes people forget that.

 Leafs fans all over town are hoping for a Stanley Cup and Eddie Shack, wearing his blue cowboy hat, said that when you win one as a player, you never forget it. "It's amazing," Shackie said, as he showed off his ring from 1967 last night. "I ask Darryl Sittler the other day if he wanted to borrow mine for a couple of weeks."

 The thing that's so great about the Leafs are the incredible fans, who are so dedicated to the blue and white. At games you see businessmen like Mark Bratty donning a Borje Salming helmet to Toronto Fire Fighting Station 333 where the crew keep track on every nuiance of the game -- in between calls of course.

 "We are with them," assured firefighters Ryan Kozluk, Ryan McKenna, RandyMusic and Capt. Donny Purchase.

 They'd love nothing more than to carry that Stanley Cup on a parade up Bay St.

 Carlton the Bear, who gave Team Canada women's captain Cassie Campbell for winning another World Championship, will be there on that day.

 And so will a lot of other people.


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