OH BABY! If you have not been watching the NHL playoffs, then I hope you were out saving the world because you're missing a dandy! The first round has been far from disappointing, and bad blood is brewing faster than any fan could desire. The playoff season is a powerful thing -- no team is a safe bet, and certainly no team is out of it. If you're lucky enough to have your favorite team still vying for a championship, you know how powerful each game is on your emotions; emotions that will run deep, and emotions that will last a lifetime. Rivalries are birthed, games become instant classics, and players are immortalized. The landscape of the sport is forever changed each and every year.
The action started last Wednesday, and to be honest with you, I wasn't even sure if there would be much of an article this week given the nature of playoff hockey. Fights tend to decrease come playoff season -- not because the intensity of games decreases (far from that actually), but because your typical "checking line" bruisers see less ice time. That's just how it usually is. Well, this playoff season says, " screw that!" This year already has dark shades of high-intensity, high-scoring, high-hating, high-drama, high-everything-a-fan-could-hope-for.
Case in point #1: Nashville Predators v. Detroit Red Wings; division counterparts to say the least. Detroit has been a perennial powerhouse throughout this decade, winning eight division titles and two Stanley cup Championships. On the other hand, Nashville has only been in existence for thirteen years, making the playoffs seven times in the last decade. They've faced each other once in the playoffs, with the Red Wings taking the series in six enroute to a Stanley Cup. However, I got a feeling they'll be seeing each other more with each game brewing more hate and more hate. The main reason? Mr. Shea Weber.
There's just something about slamming someones head into plexiglass that is unsettling to me. Weber was fined a measly $2,500 for his actions. Personally, the league got this one wrong. I get that hockey is a physical game and the playoffs are intense, but you have to show some respect for the game. That was an intentional act to harm, and quite frankly, a classless act. If I were 6'3" and 235 lbs, I would totally drop the mitts and let you know that. Well, I'm not... but Todd Bertuzzi is.
You might recall that Bertuzzi isn't the classiest player ever to skate (sucker-punching Steve Moore from behind and consequently breaking his neck and ending his career). So no, I'm not a Bertuzzi fan by any means. But he was given a second chance to play the game, and he's playing it the right way. So props. But let's throw more punches next time.
Case #2. New York Rangers v. Ottawa Senators. Ah, the classic #1 seed vs. #8 seed. David vs. Goliath. Roe vs. Wade (just kidding). I haven't followed either of these teams growing up. Sorry, I'm not from the East, nor am I Canadian. So I might have to defer to my fellow colleagues, who have already called some party fouls in this series (Party Foul: Game 2 Refs Rangers vs Senators). However, I do love hockey, so it's been great seeing drama, drama, and more drama between these two teams this past week. The announcers actually explain this better than me so let's just roll the clip!
Ottawa went on to win in overtime to tie the series, so I'm excited to see how this unfolds. I will go ahead and predict that this won't be the last time Brian Boyle and Matt Carkner mix it up. But I will say this, though: I'm digging Boyle's playoff stache.
Case #3. Pittsburgh Penguins v. Philadelphia Flyers. Everyone and their moms knew this would be a great series. They absolutely hate each other. There is no love. No hugs and kisses. Just hate. And more hate. Given how the regular season ended, this is what I expected. They have a lot of history that I won't get into mainly because this post is getting super long. So if you have some more time, let's just roll some more film!
Shame on Craig Adams for punching the back of Scott Hartnell's head. Shame on Scott Hartnell for whining about his hair getting pulled. Prediction: Game 4 ends up in a brawl.
I love hockey. I love the playoffs. I cannot wait for next week. Stay tuned. I'll bid farewell with my fighter of the week. Roman fricking Polak of the St. Louis Blues. Don't ever fight this man when he's angry.
Photos and video courtesy of hockeyfights.com, youtube.com, & ca.yahoo.com