It puzzles me how stupid some hockey fans (and sports fans in general) can make themselves sound sometimes, even if I know for a fact that they are not. Or maybe they just hide it expertly.
If you listen to the millions and millions of hockey fans, the single most common cause for their teams loss are the referees. Oh, the never-ending blaming of the refs. Most of the time they won't blame the loss directly on the refs, but you can hear/read it between the lines. How, "it's funny how they called a trip against us, when there was an obvious trip to be called against the mean opponents just before that". And somehow that changed the whole momentum of the game and you lost by six because the refs had something against your team. Damn the zebras.
Of course, sometimes it really can be a horribly blown call that decides the winner. A goal/no goal in OT, or an iffy game misconduct penalty at a crucial moment of the game. But you know what? Those things are rare. How rare, you ask? "A good Damien Cox article" -type of rare.
Other times, your team has had the full 60 minutes (or more) to prove that they are the better team. And if your team's hopes of a win are crushed by a blown call halfway through the second period when the score was tied? No matter what the penalty or incident, I'm guessing your team didn't necessarily deserve that W in the first place.
"Choking" is a cool word too. If by "cool", you mean "Please never ever use this word. Ever".
This usually isn't even the fans, it's the "neutral spectators" that throw this out there. Most of the time, "choking" is just a stupid way of saying that a team wasn't good enough down the stretch. But the problem here is, most people usually don’t see any difference between a team actually choking, and the other team raising their level of play significantly. I know it might seem hard at times, but there is a difference between the two.
For example, let's take two teams that are pretty much evenly matched on paper. Team A is leading the game 4-1 heading in to the last 5 minutes of the contest. Then the goalie lets in a soft one. Now it's 4-2. Then, suddenly, the D-men can't handle the puck even if there's no immediate pressure on them (also called; The Wild's 2012-2013 season, excluding Suter and Brodin), make poor passes that lead to turnovers, and now the game is being played in Team A's defensive zone.
Then, Team B scores and it's 4-3 with over two minutes left. After the following face-off, Team B gets the puck back in to the offensive zone. Team A can't clear the puck to save their lives, and now someone's left their man wide open at the far post and the forward taps it in. 4-4 with a whole minute left. This is called choking, ladies and gents. When a team lets their opponents back in to the game by making an unforced error after another, when in reality even their opponents thought they were out of it. Choking becomes "shitting the bed" when Team B wins the game in regulation.
Then there are moments like the first game of this year's Stanley Cup Finals. Moments, when a really really really good team finds that one extra gear and starts to play like they damn well can. These moments are bound to happen if the game is even remotely close, like last night. The Boston Bruins didn't suddenly play bad and give the game away. They tried to play within their system, but that gets pretty hard when suddenly everything you need to do, you need to do a bit quicker and a bit better.
And when that ball starts rolling, the team that still has the lead just needs to try and hang on to that lead for dear life. Like last night, the Blackhawks took the game to the Bruins at the end of regulation. This is what great teams usually do, even if they're playing another great team. And eventually, they tied the game and won it after a month of overtime.
And then tons of people ran to the twitterz and laughed and pointed at the Bruins for choking that 3-1 lead away.
Losing a 2-goal lead is literally nothing when you're playing against a team like the Blackhawks. Also, taking into account that they're playing without Gregory Campbell, arguably the best 4th line center in the game today, the Bruins were in for a challenge to begin with. And, of course, still are. And they're playing AT CHICAGO. The F'ing Mad House. The very place where those same Blackhawks have lost ONE (1) game during these Play-Offs.
If that's choking, then I'm "choking" every morning in front of a mirror when, even after years of monumental efforts, I still don't look like a 2005 version of Brad Pitt.