I was over at my brother’s house, drinking a beverage in his kitchen. My niece was there. “This Rasasnavna Rose Bergamot slaps,” I said. “I think I’ll have another one.”
“All right, but you gotta be out of here by five,” my brother says from the living room.
“‘Cause the game’s coming on.”
“The Stanley Cup Finals,” my niece says.
“Who’s playing this year? The Blackhawks in it?”
“Florida and Las Vegas,” my brother says. Which made me spit half of my beverage onto the floor. My niece jumped out of the way. “What the hell are you doing?” he says.
“Florida and Las Vegas?” I choked. “Florida? Against Las Vegas?”
“What about it?”
“How does Las Vegas have an ice hockey team? Or Florida, for that matter?”
“They got everything in Vegas,” he says. “Florida, too, now.”
“Except the ability to talk about gay people or black people in their schools,” my niece says.
“Those open police records are great, though,” I said, wiping my mouth. “You ever go through those? Trash TV’s got nothing on that shit. Or…the Bible.”
“They’re gonna get rid of those too, now,” she says.
“No, open records laws.”
“Noooo,” I said. “That was how your mom met your dad, you know. Looking through police records.”
“Five o’clock,” my brother points at the TV.
“Hey, remember when San Jose and Anaheim first got a team? It was right around the same time, wasn’t it? And everybody was making fun of them because they’re both out of Southern California. And people were like…whatever they were saying about it…at the time.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if you heard,” my brother says, “but no one thinks that anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
“Besides, L.A.’s had a team since like the Sixties.”
“Are you sure they didn’t just steal it from like Minnesota or something?”
“You’re thinking of the NBA,” my niece says. My brother points to the TV again, without looking at us.
“All right, so what’s the spread?”
“You mean the puckline?” he says.
“No, I mean the spread. As in, ‘spread your cheeks and sit right down on top of this ceramic fruit topiary centerpiece, that I’m gonna hold steady for you. And give it a fundlebuster.’” My niece spit most of her beverage out onto the floor.
“What, goals?” I said.
“No, touchdowns,” he says.
“They favorited to win? The series?”
“Moneyline’s got ‘em at about -125, across the board.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“It means ‘yes’,” my niece says, wiping her mouth.
“All right, smart guy,” I said, “Tell me why. Why is Vegas gonna pull it off?”
“Vegas holds the regular season advantage over the last five seasons,” he says. “Plus, they had the fourth best record in the league this year. And were the top seed in the West.”
“So?” I says. “You know none of that means anything. Remember in The Finals of ’89, when the Lakers swept their way through the entire playoffs, and then got swept right out by the Pistons, in four games?”
“No,” he says.
“But the Pistons were the top seed in the East that year,” my niece says. “Florida was only a wild card.” I looked at her. “But, they have won their last eight on the road, since that last first-round loss to the Bruins.”
“All right, forget that macroscopic bullshit,” I said. “Gimme the nitty gritty. I wanna Moe Szyslak some shit here.”
“Who?” my niece says.
“Tkachuk,” my brother says.
“Oh, God bless you,” I said.
“Twenty-one points, four game-winners. The guy’s on fire. I’d say he’s definitely the X factor in this one.”
“But Vegas has six players on their roster who’ve already won a Stanley Cup,” my niece says. “You can’t buy experience like that. Plus workhorses like Marchessault and Karlesson.”
“I don’t know. Bobrovsky’s been a wall since they gave him the nod for the playoffs,” my brother says.
“And don’t forget Eicher,” my niece says. “If you ask me, he’s gonna be the real X factor.”
“These names,” I said. “Not to sound racist or nothing, but they check the green cards on some of these people, right?”
“The Knights were 26-7-8 on the road this year,” he says, “only twelve losses when they commit fewer penalties, one of the highest points percentages in the league—they basically dominated the West, beating out the Avalanche and the Oilers.”
“All right,” I said. “So, that’s why you’re pulling for Vegas?”
“Who said I was pulling for Vegas?”
“Then you’re rooting for Florida?”
“Then…why’d you say I gotta get out of here by five o’clock?” I see him smile, looking at the TV. “You dick,” I said. “All right,” I started to leave right then, but took a step and slipped on all the spit beverage on the floor, and landed right on my coccyx. Which meant I couldn’t walk for like an hour after that, so I had to stay and watch the game. Which my brother fell asleep about half an hour into. So me and my niece sat on the couch and drank fake alcoholic beverages all night.
“These do slap,” she says, after knocking another one back.
I forget who won.