Fifty one saves, three overtimes and one own goal are something sports fans can only dream of experiencing in a playoff.
But those haven’t been spread out over a six-week time frame. Instead they have been wrapped into the first four games of a first round playoff series between the No. 1 and No. 8 seeded teams.
Up and down, the NHL playoffs run laps around any other professional playoff system.
In 2006, the Edmonton Oilers entered the playoffs as the last playoff team in the Western Conference and had to play the best team in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings.
Things did not look good for the Oilers, but just like a cheesy ’80s movie, the nerd you’d last expect ends up with the girl. But in this case, the girl was the Clarence Campbell Trophy, which is given to the team that emerges from the playoffs and ascends to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Although they eventually fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Finals, they mixed it up and wreaked havoc on the bracket.
This season is shaping up the same way. After two games had been completed, every series was split at one.
Even the top teams like the Capitals and the Sharks, who are the No. 1 seed mentioned above, are not having an easy time putting teams that snuck their way into the playoffs away.
Their opponents, the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche, earned quick wins and the Avs even stole a win on an own-goal that broke a scoreless tie in overtime.
The thrill of the playoffs stem from watching a single player dominate a series like a goalie can.
In 1984, Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy lead his team to an unexpected run to a Stanley Cup Championship. He ended up being rewarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Finals MVP that year.
As most hockey fans know, that was just the beginning of one of the most illustrious careers for a goalie in the NHL.
This year, goalies such as the Avalanche’s Craig Anderson and Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne have dominated their series with their play in goal.
Anderson is the owner of a 51 save shutout against the top-seeded Sharks that ended up as an overtime victory.
But goalies aren’t the only ones that break out and show their promise as potential superstars.
Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks surprised hockey fans all over with their run to the Western Conference Finals before their rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, foiled them.
Forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane displayed this kind of potential talent and with that came expectations for the next season.
They met those expectations with a Central Divison championship and a second seed in the playoffs.
This season, Avalanche forward Chris Stewart has three goals in four games as the Avs are engaged in a tie at two games against the top team in the West.
The NHL playoffs offer a level of excitement that no other sport captures. The intensity of playing with your back against wall will captivate the imagination.
So instead of wasting time watching the world’s largest pseudo event, the NFL Draft, turn on Versus and watch some mind-blowing playoff hockey.
Bill Hopkins is a sophomore sports communications major from Oswego. He is the Scout sports editor.
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