Chicago, IL — If you are a sports fan that enjoys highly skilled professional athletes, competing at a level that has intensity like you’ve never experienced in a contact game filled with more passion and emotions that leaves you as a viewer and fan exhausted get ready the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are about to begin. Over the course of then next two months the NHL will go through three playoff rounds leading up to the Stanley Cup finals.
If the above sounds up your alley, I strongly suggest you give these playoffs a view. You don’t even have to be a hockey fan to appreciate these contests. The game of hockey is fast, very fast but if you can follow a pinball in a pinball machine than you can follow a puck on ice. Trust me it will be worth the effort.
The athletes who play this game do not have your usual names. Stars in this sport are called Ovechkin, Toews (pronounced Taves), Giroux, Datsyuk & Malkin. Not to worry they also have names you can pronounce like Crosby, Kane,Campbell, Smith & Richards too. It is also not as important to know the names as long as you watch the numbers. These are the best skaters in the world with universe class puck handling skills that will leave you speechless. They also are not too hard on the eyes either.
What makes the NHL playoffs more engaging to a viewer is that over the course of a seven game series gamesmanship and rivalries reach a fever pitch as emotions run so high you wonder how the ice does not melt. Some of the rivalries will be new to the playoffs like the Phoenix Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks who have never faced each other in the playoffs before or rivalry that is so bitter you wonder if any player or coaches will be left after the first round when Pittsburg Penguins meet the Philadelphia Flyers.
You will get a sense of these teams fans when they play in their home arenas. These arenas have a life and personality as unique and distinctive as their teams and the way they honor National Anthems. Whether it is the tradition of the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit or the youthful exuberance of the United Center in Chicago or the rowdy fans in the Wells Fargo Arena in Philly you will get a sense of how these teams are fueled by their fans and their house.
Do worry if you don’t know the rules, you will get the hang of this game quick. Unlike football this game is pretty user-friendly. It’s as simple as you want the puck to go in the oppositions net more time than they put it in yours. See easy. Don’t worry about all the circles and lines on the ice you will figure that out later the more you watch.
What separates this game from the NFL, NBA or MLB is the passion in which this game is played. Hockey players are different from every other professional athlete in that they are as a whole pretty grounded and down to earth. They love this game so much, they bleed and sacrifice their teeth and take stitches like they just had a hangnail. They literally fight each other during these games as their emotions on ice reach a breaking point and boil over. In this game fighting is allowed. As I said this game has intensity and emotions that you can not help being sucked in by just as the players on the ice are.
Now you may be a fan of strong defensive play, if so than you may like the Nashville Predators, New York Rangers or Phoenix Coyotes. If you like offense and can appreciate finesse and skills you may want to check out the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburg Penguins or Washington Capitals. If you are a fan of the rough stuff and hard physical play you’d probably like the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, LA Kings or St. Louis Blues. Like I said this game has something for everyone.
The reason they go through one of the most grueling professional sports playoffs is for something they call the Stanley Cup. Now I know your thinking it’s just another trophy like the Lombardi or Larry O’Brian or the Commissioners’’ trophy but it is not. This trophy actually can be used and has been used to eat and drink out of. Babies have been christened in it and yes even took an accidental poop in it.
What makes the Stanley Cup special is hard to put into words. It is engraved with every players name that was on a Stanley Cup winning team. Every player on the Stanley Cup winning team gets to spend a day with the Cup and take it back to their home towns or wherever they want.
The Cup is what a nations’ children dream of winning. It has the power to reduce grown men to tears. It renders coaches speechless. It causes cities to throw parades. It has more secrets and mystery around it than Mata Hari. It has participated in acts of debauchery that a rock star would envy. It now has to be chaperoned because of it’s seductive allure. It is a national treasure. It gets white glove treatment and is shined daily. It is something men covet and want to spend time with over and over again. Every year it has an unknown destination.
Now does this sound like any old trophy to you I ask? No this prize is like no other as are the players that play this game. The fans are obsessive crazy and the game itself is skillful, passionate, raunchy & pristine all at once. Tune in and give it a try I bet you’ll get hooked why? Because if you’re human with emotions you’ll feel something during these games and experience a range of emotions that your team will take you on. It is the opera of sports. It is like opera not in a stuffy or formal way, but it’s a theatrical drama that feels like a passion play. It maybe a game played on a cold surface like ice, but it also plays in a very warm place called the heart.