By Aaron Jaffe ’21
For most sports fans, April comes around and that means the start of baseball, the NFL Draft, or even the NBA playoffs. But you rarely hear the hype around possibly the most exciting of the best-of-7 playoff formats: the NHL playoffs. This year is no different. The story of LeBron James not even being in the playoffs is a bigger story than any headline from the hockey world. But if this years’ playoffs are anything like 2018, you might find yourself a new sport to follow. Here’s why you should watch the NHL playoffs.
The biggest downfalls of the sports juggernauts, aka the NBA and NFL, has been to predictability. The NBA more so than the NFL but both have seen fans and interests drop with the predictability. The most hated teams in each sport? The Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots. It’s also not a coincidence the reigning champs for years over theses sports tires fans out. Last year, the Washington Capitals made their second finals appearance in franchise history and their opponent was the first year of an expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Back in 2017, the eighth-seeded Nashville Predators swept the number one team in the west, the Chicago Blackhawks, and then went on to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals. Any team can go down at anytime which is the best part about sports.
No matter from how far you shoot the puck, it’s always gonna count as one. You won’t see any team go up big in just a matter of seconds or minutes. Almost every game boils down to the final period. This season, the average for number of goals a team scored per game was 2.95. No one is gonna go score a crazy number of goals that any team has to try and catch up the whole game. Your team is going to be in the game so you are always as a fan you are always hooked in.
Back in the 1976-77 season, the Montreal Canadiens made history with 60 wins in the regular season and followed up it up in the postseason with a Stanley Cup victory. Then in the 1995-96 season, the Detroit Red Wings made history with a single season record of 62 wins but failed to even appear in the finals. Fast forward to 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning hit 62 wins. So can they sustain their dominance into the postseason?
It’s extremely unlikely that within a seven game series between teams standing in the way of each other in their pursuits of the Cup, that there will be no bad blood. It’s an across the board, universal truth about sports. But unlike the other leagues, the players in hockey are allowed to settle the beef. We as fans cannot deny the enjoyment, for whatever reason it is, but when a fight starts or some pushing and shoving everyone gets excited and as a plus you don’t have to worry about these players getting CTE while cheering on the physicality.