Have you heard about hockey this year? It’s actually good; like, really good for the first time in about a decade. I seriously can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a regular season hockey game before the 2010 season. Still, I took a chance this year on some random weekday on about two hours of programming featuring the Flyers and Penguins in Pittsburgh. It did not disappoint.
I have always been baffled by the sheer energy of the game and, growing up a Flyers fan, have maintained a healthy appreciation for the monumental amount of interest that each player shows during every single possession. The best part about hockey is that there are no down moments. Aside from the occasional errant puck or late game timeout, there are usually nine to ten men on the ice going at 110% for most of the game.
This intensity is only magnified when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around. I will admit that I can often be prone to hyperbole, but I believe that I speak my heart when I say this year’s tournament may just be the most entertaining one the NHL has ever seen. The Buffalo-Philadelphia series was absolutely incredible, not to be outdone by the almost historical clash of Vancouver and Chicago. The Ducks and Sharks also provided a great show on the ice this post season.
With so many phenomenal match-ups behind us, surely the championship could never live up to the hype generated in the preceding rounds, right? Wrong; Dead wrong. After this tourney had shown us that there is no such thing as home field advantage, the Boston-Vancouver series has placed home-ice right back atop it’s pedestal following five riveting home team victories.
Tonight’s game was honestly my favorite type of game; a dog fight. Goals were like gold out there and ever shot had me exhaling while five men threw themselves desperately into one another in an effort to keep a rubber puck out of their net. This series has opened my eyes to what hockey can be at it’s greatest. Vancouver holds the edge after tonight’s battle but the Bruins are by no means defeated. They have shown that the Canucks are going to have to rip that Stanley Cup trophy away from them and beat them to a pulp with said cup if they want to keep it.
My favorite aspect of this series has been the difference in styles with which each team plays. It seems to me, a completely inexperienced couch monger, that the Bruins play a rough style of hockey. They want contact and they want you on your ass. The Canucks can dish out some punishment as well, but what has really impressed me about the Canucks is their simple technical mastery of the game. Sound puck handling, seemingly robotic transition movement, and precise skating has powered them to a 3-2 series edge.
Both of these teams play with a passion that I find is almost absent in most other major sports. The idea of having every single member of a team playing with everything that they have for the complete duration of a game seems silly when applied to such sports as baseball, basketball, and even football. Could you imagine Allen Iverson diving to block a shot before recovering and dashing forward to get into his offensive position? What about T. O. shrugging off a check to find the puck along the boards and get it to his closest team mate? Hope you weren’t drinking anything while trying to picture those; if so, I apologize.
Anyway, I’m rooting for a Bruins victory hardcore on Sunday so long as I get a little bit more of this before it’s all over and I’m left with “Lebron’s Legacy Post-Finals” and “The Phillies Can’t Hit” headlines to troll you all with. Enjoy it while it lasts, sport fan public and if you haven’t caught any of the action on the ice lately, shame on you. You disappoint me…no seriously.