I love baseball and I am a big basketball fan. Each is well-discussed and followed this time of the year. But for me, this is hockey season: nothing compares to the playoffs in the NHL.
Each sport holds a certain appeal. Baseball will live in eternity as America’s game for its history and pageantry. Football’s brutality and in-depth strategy set it apart from all other sports. Basketball’s fast pace and superstars who single-handedly carry teams characterize the sport. Hockey is known for its grace and skill, yet sometimes extreme physicality. But, unlike other sports, hockey’s intensity in the playoffs is amazing. The NHL playoffs are by far the most fun to watch.
Playoff hockey games have it all. Skillful goals, hard hits, gritty play, spectacular goaltending and unique unpredictability. In the NHL, it is not so rare for a No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed. Last year, the No. 8 seed from the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings, won the Stanley Cup. The amount of talent on a squad does matter, but ultimately, games and series are not determined by skill. Rather, the most cohesive and hot team typically enjoys the spoils of victory. This pure form of sport is what makes hockey special.
Many sports fans like to bash hockey. Dismissing the sport as “only for Canadians” or as simply “boring,” many fans do not realize how great hockey really is. There are certainly members of that contingent at John Carroll, but there are also a ton of hockey fans. I have met numerous fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Personally, I “Rock the Red”: I am a huge Washington Capitals fan.
If you have never followed the NHL playoffs, pay close attention in this next month. Even consider jumping on a team’s bandwagon. Some of my best nights, dating back to the days before Alexander Ovechkin, have been spent in front of the television watching my Caps. I have experienced both the joy of victory and the agony of defeat on many an occasion. Though the Capitals have broken my heart time and time again (kind of like the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers), I return each season with renewed hope.
One aspect that makes this season all the more special is that the NHL playoffs almost did not happen this year. A labor dispute nearly caused the cancellation of the entire season. Luckily for fans and players alike, the season was salvaged, albeit in a shortened, 48-game format. The compressed season led to the playoffs being pushed back to late April. Regardless, I am ecstatic to watch some playoff hockey.
You should watch with me. Playoff hockey is incredible, jump on a bandwagon and enjoy. Believe me, hockey isn’t just for Canadians.