Like most Colorado hockey fans, I woke up Wednesday morning with an empty feeling in my stomach.
This wasn't supposed to happen.
The Avalanche bolted to a 3-1 series lead over the Minnesota Wild late last week, and most of Colorado was just waiting for the other shoe to drop before the second round started.
But then the Avalanche let Game 5 slip away, and we all watched in disbelief as the Wild stayed alive in Game 6.
It was just past 11 p.m. Tuesday when that other shoe -- or should I say Cinderella's glass slipper -- kicked the Avs right out of the playoffs in an upsetting (if you're from Colorado) Game 7.
The shoe belonged to Wild goalkeeper Manny Fernandez, who must have been in a hurry to board his royal coach for a ride to Denver International Airport after skating past the Avalanche. I think it was scheduled to turn back into a pumpkin at midnight.
As a true fan of Colorado sports, watching the Avalanche lose this early in the playoffs compares to when the Broncos lost to Jacksonville in the second round of the NFL playoffs in 1997, or when the Avalanche fell to Edmonton in 1998.
It's pain only true Colorado natives -- those who watched the Broncos lose their first four Super Bowl appearances -- can understand.
But while I was filled with bitter disappointment after Wednesday night's game, there was little sympathy in the Russell home.
You see, while I love to watch playoff hockey, my wife does not.
She shows little compassion when one of Colorado's major sports teams fall in a big playoff contest.
I'm normally sulking in a sea of depression when she pulls out the old "How's this going to impact our life, anyway?" speech.
To tell the truth, she's right. It doesn't really matter one way or another if the Avalanche or the Broncos win.
But I still don't appreciate the sarcasm in her voice when she asks if I get some sort of bonus if the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.
She just doesn't get it.
But what she does understand is that as soon as the Avalanche exit the playoffs, I will have plenty of free time to finish those little chores around the house -- cleaning, painting or any number of odd jobs she wants completed before summer arrives.
So, I guess when the Avalanche lost to the Wild in Game 7 it really did impact my day-to-day life.
Like most of the hockey fans in Colorado, I'm sure I will recover from watching my team choke in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Until then, I will just have to find another way to fill my free time. I know I could gain a few brownie points around the house. I know that it's only April, but as I write this, the Rockies are still in second place in the West.
I guess that yard work can wait.