NHL Playoffs-Like Nothing Else

The NHL regular season is winding down soon and the playoffs are just around the corner. As 16 teams (eight from each conference) battle to win the right to hoist the Stanley Cup, almost anything can happen and create exciting games to watch. In recent years, some of the best hockey has been witnessed during the NHL playoffs.

Last season, the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins met in a rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins were at one point in danger of not making the playoffs earlier that year but with the help of head coach Dan Bylesma, who began the season coaching in the AHL, the Penguins forced a Game 7 in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. Not many people predicted the Penguins to pull it off but with the help of Sidney Crosby and superb goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins earned the right to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992. No one expected them to win making that Stanley Cup Finals exciting.

A couple seasons before that, the Anaheim Ducks, who were once considered “a Mickey Mouse” franchise because well…they were once owned by Disney, shed years of frustration by taking down the Ottawa Senators to win their first Stanley Cup in team history. The Ducks had gone to the finals once before but with the “Mighty” dropped from their name on the second trip, the Ducks proved they were the NHL’s best team by winning the Stanley Cup. The team was loaded with veterans such as Rob and Scott Niedermeyer, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne and that team brought the Stanley Cup to the west coast for the first time. The Ducks had gone from a team that was at the bottom of the standings most of the time when owned by Disney to winning the Stanley Cup on the west coast.

Taking a look even further back, who can forget the Carolina Hurricanes winning their first Stanley Cup in team history? The Hurricanes, who were led by Rod Brind’Amour, had to battle through seven grueling games against an Edmonton Oilers team that wasn’t willing to give up and playing with a backup goaltender to bring the Cup to the Carolinas. The Hurricanes proved several times in that series that giving up was not an option to them and brought joy to the area by clinching the Cup. The Oilers had the talent to take it from them but the Hurricanes were destined to hoist the Cup in the Carolinas.

Some of the greatest rivalries have started as a result of what’s occurred in the playoffs. The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings began when the two teams met in the playoffs in 1996 and you can thank Claude Lemieux for that. All Lemieux did was shove Kris Draper into the boards face first and after several fights that included the goalies beating the snot out of each other, a rivalry was born. The Flyers and the Penguins have renewed their rivalries in the postseason as well and several other matchups have resulted in hatred between teams. With higher emotions will come harder hits and rivalries all because everyone wants to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The NHL playoffs are like nothing else and with new rivalries and matchups to be seen, excitement is just around the corner.

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~ by jeffrsabo on March 31, 2010.

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