Some might argue that the start of hockey season is the favorite time of year for hockey fans. While the start of hockey season is a very special time, we would argue that there is no better time of year than playoff time. Whether you are a fan of the NHL, AHL, KHL, ECHL, QMJHL, OHL, WHL, CWHL or any other hockey league the playoffs bring out the best in hockey fans. Using the NHL as an example, let’s look at what makes the playoffs the favorite time of year for hockey fans young and old.
10 Things that Make the Playoffs Special
- Player intensity – the 2012 NHL Playoffs have illustrated just how intense the playoffs are. The first round of playoffs have been as intense as I have ever seen. Look at the Philadelphia / Pittsburgh series, the Sens vs. Rangers, the Sharks and Blues… each series was a battle. Even the Canucks / Kings and Preds/Red Wings series were super intense although they ended fairly quickly. The players don’t get paid for playing the extra playoff games, it’s all about winning the prize, the Stanley Cup.
- Sudden Death Overtime – there are no shootouts in playoff hockey. Hockey fans love sudden death OT, next goal wins. Sometimes its over quickly and in other games it can take multiple periods to determine the winner. Love it. No other sport is as grueling when it comes to playoffs. There is nothing better than sudden death overtime in the NHL playoffs. So far there has been 15 OT games in round one of the playoffs with two more game sevens yet to be played.
- Cinderella Teams – each and every year a Cinderella team emerges to go far in the playoffs. In 2006 you might say it was the Edmonton Oilers, a few years back it was the Ottawa Senators, last year perhaps the eventual Stanley Cup winners Boston Bruins could have been considered the Cinderella team. This year it could be the Washington Capitals who just minutes ago eliminated the Boston Bruins.
- Hockey Every Night to start the playoffs – you have to love having hockey games that mean something being played every night as the playoffs get underway.
- Playoff Upsets – just ask the Vancouver Canucks the league’s top regular season team who were ousted by eighth seed Los Angeles in five games. Ouch. Each and every year we see a stunning upset. Gotta love it.
- Parity – any team can win on any given night – there are certain teams who are teams of destiny where everything falls into place. The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning or 2006 Carolina Hurricanes fit this profile as both won the Cup when no one really expected them to. I still lose sleep thinking about the Oilers losing in seven games to the Hurricanes. It just doesn’t seem right… but then again that is playoff hockey.
- The Stanley Cup is the hardest championship to win in all of professional sports – after 82 hard hitting games only 16 teams make it into the playoffs. It takes 16 wins to wins the Cup. The NHL playoffs are two months of the most intense hockey out there. ‘Nuff Said.
- A hot goalie goes a long way – in the playoffs, a hot goalie can get into the minds of the opposing team. There have been numerous teams that have rode the coattails of a hot goalie all the way to the final or even the Stanley Cup. See Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins last year.
- The Magic of the Playoffs – there is just something about the NHL playoffs. Whether it is a certain player or an upcoming rookie, or a slick coaching move or a game seven thriller, each year the playoffs feature a little something that we just don’t see in the regular season. There is a little magic that keeps us on the end of our seats regardless if whether our team is still in it out not.
- The Holy Grail – the Stanley Cup trophy is the most amazing trophy where winners of the team get their name engraved on the trophy itself. There is a lot of history on that trophy. Simply amazing.
Playoff time makes hockey fans giddy with anticipation. As hockey fans your team now has a 1 in 16 chance of winning arguably the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup. Even if you are not a hockey fan, take the time to enjoy some playoff hockey, you will be amazed at the intensity and entertainment value that playoff hockey delivers.