The Stanley Cup Playoffs; Electric...Or Is It?
June 14, 1994. The crowd is on their feet. The New York Rangers have not won a single Stanley Cup in about fifty-four years. This season looked like their year,
finishing first place in the Eastern Conference with one hundred and twelve points, and also receiving the President's Trophy. The Vancouver Canucks, on the opposite
end of the ice, finished in second last and are on what could be considered a "Cinderella run". The Rangers jump to an early two to nothing lead, firing up the
crowd who has been cupless for an eternity. Trevor Linden, on the shorthanded give away, silences the crowd turning the lead into just one goal. The rest of the game
would be dead even and exciting. Both respected teams fans watch in agony with three faceoffs being held in the last thirty seven seconds in the New York Rangers
own end. 3, 2, 1 and the horn buzzes off. The crowd goes electric. The Rangers have done it and have won the Stanley Cup.
Why did I have to bring up this memory of game seven between the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks? The 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs was widely regarded as one
of the best playoff seasons the National Hockey League has ever witnessed. It wasn't the conference finals where fans recollect Jim Robson's memorable "Greg Adams!
Greg Adams!" or Mark Messier's promise. The electricity of the playoffs that year was centered around the Stanley Cup final between the Canucks and Rangers. Anyone
remember "the save"? You know, the one Kirk Mclean made. How about Mark Messier's cheapshot or Bure's penalty shot that was stopped by the oustanding Mike Richter? Yes,
the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1994 were so good, that Sports Illustrated went as far as saying "the NHL hot, the NBA not". Who would have ever seen that day? Unfortunately,
fans had to witness the Dead Puck Era, the epitome of the Great Depression that us humans many years ago had to witness but as a hockey fan.
However, those Dead Puck Era days would go away SLIGHTLY after the 2004-2005 lockout, when Bettman promised to make the game more exciting. The 2005-2006 Hurricanes
were a good and exciting team. The 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks were nearly unbeatable and pretty exciting to watch. The Red Wings and oh, yes, the Penguins were very
offensively minded and exciting. Not to forget the very tough and nearly unbeatable 2010 Chicago Blackhawks and 2011 Boston Bruins (with Tim Thomas in net of course).
This year, 2011-2012 seems like the Dead Puck Era has unfortunately returned and the last three paragraphs have been pointless. The offensively minded Vancouver Canucks,
Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins were all ousted in round one to defensively minded teams. Canucks fans usually whine about the team that
has beaten them out of the playoffs for a year or so, however this year they could have cared less. Why? Their feeling has summarized what many fans think of this years
playoffs so far, after the quarter finals occured: who cares.
It has been great to see a shift in power to teams who have come no where near the cup in the last twenty years such as the Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, and
Los Angeles Kings. However, their style of hockey has been arguably painful to watch. If your favourite team or any team in general does not allow a goal on your own
goalie, you might have a chance at solving Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings backed by a high power-shot blocking defense. Not to forget, where has the energy
been all these playoffs? I remember last year when teams were so after the puck and scoring goals. The Nashville Predators, no offense, were the only defensive minded
team to come close to the conference finals and for a reason.
No Canadian teams, as usual, made it through to the semi finals. Instead, we have the pleasure of watching Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh play backup goalies in front
of the net to the arguable uncrowned Vezina winner, Henrik Lundqvist, blocking shot after shot. Another thing when I watch these games, where is the atmosphere in the
crowd? The only crowd I can think of being into it like crazy this year is the Predators crowd.
As they say or rappers these days say "he mad" or "hater's gonna hate". Perhaps true. I will wait until next NHL season praying to see another series on the level of
the Boston Bruins .vs. Montreal Canadiens or Vancouver Canucks .vs. The Chicago Blackhawks from round one in the 2011 NHL playoffs.