Fasten Your Seat Belts

Editor's note: This story appears in the April 6 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Imagine being stuck on a roller coaster that gets faster and bumpier four weeks in a row. Imagine the physical ups and downs mixed with emotional upheavals, and now you know what the players, coaches and suits of contending teams must endure as the NHL season winds down. (For a peek at the NHL playoffs scramble, click here.) Consider what's at stake. In each conference, a half dozen or so teams are battling for final post-season spots. And because playoff money is a major factor in whether clubs end up in the red or the black, the tension affects everyone from superstar to stick boy. The difference between In and just Out is huge.