Time zoned/The Red Line

The Detroit Red Wings will be playing in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference next season, and the most exciting part of this news is not more games against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It’s not Original Six rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers. It’s not knowing the team may be less worn down by drastically reduced travel.

It’s knowing that I’m not going to have to go through the torture of playoff hockey in the wee hours of the morning ever again.

Wednesday’s Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals was the third to take place in Anaheim, Calif. Apparently because the hockey gods hate me, all of them have taken place on weeknights and started at 10 p.m. or later.

It’s not the Ducks’ fault they’re in the Pacific time zone – folks have to get home from work and get through traffic to get to the rink, but I’d rather have Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke step on my Achilles tendon than deal with a scene like last night’s again.

Games 1 and 2 were important but not determining, so I decided to call it a night after two periods. Someone’s got to be in early to make the donuts.

However, my iPod is rigged to make noise whenever there’s a goal in a Red Wings game (for or against).

In Game 1, I was secretly hoping it would go off a couple times, meaning Detroit had gotten back into the game. It didn’t.

In Game 2, I went to bed with Detroit holding an insurmountable 4-1 lead. It kept going off, I kept checking it (you assumed something different?) and the news kept getting worse. Anaheim forced overtime and I refused to get out of bed. After someone ridiculed me for calling the game too early, I told them I wasn’t about to turn the TV back on and reward bad behavior.

Game 5 of a tied series is weird because it’s pivotal, obviously, but not the end regardless of the outcome. For that reason, I shifted the tipping point and said I’d stay up through the end of regulation.

Of course, there were no goals in the third period and the game went to an overtime that started at about 12:45 a.m.

Those of you who follow hockey on the Internet might be familiar with ESPN anchor John Buccigross’ “Overtime Challenge,” in which someone who correctly picks the scorer of a playoff overtime game-winner gets a chance to win a T-shirt and other fabulous prizes.

I had a “Bucci Overtime Challenge” of my own: Fall asleep before my iPod went off, spoiling the outcome and potentially, my evening.

Not only did that not come close to happening, I had picked Francois Beauchemin and Henrik Zetterberg to score. Wrong again.

Then, at 1 a.m., I remembered that it was Wednesday night and I had been watching playoff hockey all night and hadn’t even thought about this column. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be columnists.

Thanks to Nick Bonino, the best thing I have left to hope for the 2012-13 Red Wings is yet another late-starting game on a work night (a potential Game 7 would be Sunday in Anaheim.)

There is no sleep deadline for Game 7. And there may be no sleep after it.

Brandon Veale can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at