Ah, it’s a lovely time of year, ain’t it?! The birds are chirping, the sun lingers a little longer, and the NHL playoffs have begun.
Now, while I am totally ok watching games 1 through 82, I get that it’s not for everyone; it can be a hard game to follow, especially on TV. Once you know what’s happening, and the ins-and-outs of the game, you begin to really appreciate what’s going on, and you start to fall in love.
Regular season games are a mish-mash of coaches giving minutes to guys they usually don’t, trying different line configurations, strategies, etc. All the teams do it, and between the shuffling of lines, and bringing guys up from the minors, etc., consistency can be fleeting.
Once the puck drops for the postseason…now we’re talking.
Those starting line-ups are pretty much set in stone; sure, an all star center could see time on more than one line, or your Norris Trophy candidate can squeeze some extra minutes from a bottom 6 guy, but for the most part…you know what you’re going to get.
These teams are battle tested. They’ve put up enough of a fight to get here. They’re cognizant of what works for them, as well as what their opponent leans on.
Beards are started. The refs swallow their whistles. Scores drop drastically, and you’ll see more 1 goal games than in one month of regular season games.
The best part?
The handshake line.
No other sport has anything close. Two beaten opponents, completely gassed and running on fumes, meeting at center ice to shake hands and exchange pleasantries, as the triumphant squad moves on, while the defeated keep their chins up, and respectfully congratulate the men they violently hated not 10 minutes ago.
Love this time of year!!! Lace up them skates boys….it’s go time!!!