*Rivalries are Hot and Heavy – There are both old school, blood wars going on and new burgeoning rivalries playing out during the first round of these playoffs. The Flyers and Penguins are involved in what only can be described as a MMA on skates, or a full on Civil War. These two teams hate each other so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Pens thugs try to intentionally injure one of the Flyers stars; it’s been that bad, but oh so good to watch. The Predators and Red Wings are meeting for the second year in a row in the playoffs, and the Predators need to beat this team to move on as a franchise it seems. It’s almost like the young upstart trying to defeat his teacher, and it’s so difficult until it actually happens. That makes this a fantastic series to watch.
*Violence – I know it’s not a popular position, and I also know the NHL is actually not very pleased with it, but along with hotly contested games, and rivalries comes a healthy dose of violence and man we love it. With 8 suspensions on the books through Game 4 of the first round (there were only 7 in the entire playoffs last year), it appears that these players are not f*cking around. Elbows, Cross-Checks, head hunting, stick shattering slashes, 3rd-man in’s and instigator penalties and suspension are proof that these teams mean business and I love it, and so do you. C’mon, you know as well as I do that when a fight breaks out you are yelling as loud as I am “RIP HIS F*CKING HEAD OFF!” If you say you don’t and want to pretend that you turn away and are appalled by these children fighting, then you are either noy a hockey fan, or you are just plain full of s*it….pick one.
*Upsets – The Flyers and the LA Kings being on the cusp of sweeps are creating huge headlines for the NHL. If the Kings win tonight, they will be the first team to ever sweep a team that won the President’s trophy in the first round. It’s like a 16 seed taking out a 1 seed in NCAA Tourney, it just never happens. Oh, an 8 has beaten a 1 before in the NHL, but never like this. The fact that it’s an L.A. team is also very helpful.
I know what you Flyers fans are going to say (JAY), “the Flyers are just as good as the Pens, this is not an upset.” OK, I get that, and I agree, however, going into the playoffs, everyone (including myself) saw the Pens going to the finals. I, being a Rangers fan, said to Jay in a text two weeks ago, “the only team that truly scares me in the East is the Pens.” You all felt the same way, so that’s why this is a shocking development, even to you Flyers fans.
SideNote – Let me just say for the record, the Flyers have definitely caught my attention as a Rangers fan. I’m truly pulling for the Caps or the Devils to win in the 1st round so we can delay running into that Buzzsaw in Philly right now. That team is way to hat right now to deal with.
*The Rangers re-emergence as a Power – Let’s face facts, the playoffs are more exciting when the Rangers are involved. More people care, who normally wouldn’t care, when the Rangers are involved. Add in the fact that the Rangers are considered a favorite to go to the Finals, and they have a bona-fide superstar in net makes them delicious for the NHL to market. Look for the occasional phantom call to go the Rangers way.
*The Coverage – This is where the NHL has hit a Grand Slam in my opinion. The fact that every game is being televised by one network and they are making sure that they are available to everyone is an amazing idea. Why has the NHL waited so long to do this? I mean other than a hand full of games that are shown of the NHL Network, everyone gets NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NBC, and they are showing every game. It’s like watching the NCAA Tourney, and we all know how awesome that is. Great job by Bettman and the powers that be in the NHL for getting this done. You may have completely derailed our beloved game back in the mid-90′s with an ill-advised work stoppage, and you may never actually fully recover from that ridiculousness, but this is about as close as you’ve come and I for one am fully engrossed in hockey again for the first time since Gretzky retired.
SideNote – On the coverage, has anyone seen the post-game shows on the NHL Network? Jeremy Roenick is one of the color analysts on the Network and something is not right with his face. He looks like he either a)played in a game like yesterday and got his ass beat, or b) was walking into the building and got his ass beat, or c) got into a fight with someone and……say it with me…..got his ass beat. Am I mistaken or didn’t he retire like 3 years ago? I would imagine it may take a little bit of time for 20 years of competitive hockey to vanish from your face, but it’s been like 3 years, and he’s on TV. Don’t these guys where like tons of make-up to be on TV? I don’t know, I’m a,little concerned about JR, I’m just sayin’.
Fandoms! How are your teams doing so far? Hit me up, Chris@thesportsriot.net or follow us on Twitter @TheSportsRiot and watch me (Rangers fan) and Jay (Flyers fan) go all “Civil War” on each other soon. It seems the die has been cast, and we are on a head-on collision any day now. Will TSR! survive the carnage? We shall see, just remember one thing….HATE THE TEAM! LOVE THE FAN!
Jack Buck’s MNF Memories