In yet another year, Cavs and the Warriors are at it again in the NBA Finals. Aren’t you getting sick of this somehow routine?
With this face-off, it is all about Lebron James and Steph Curry hullabaloos. Yet, enough of this basketball talk. In an attempt to escape the NBA trend, it is apt to introduce an alternative to it: the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the very words of former NBA star Charles Barkley, in fact, the Stanley Cup Playoffs is way better and more interesting than the NBA.
In this article, I will do my best to convince you to watch a different sport. Welcome to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Playoffs in the NHL have a similar format like NBA’s except that NHL’s round 1 is usually held within the Division only. Having teams face each other in this format helps ignite rivalries we didn’t know we wanted — rivalries like Toronto-Montreal, Boston-Montreal, Detroit-Chicago and many others.
A short article from the NHL Website can give you a short explanation. https://www.nhl.com/news/stanley-cup-playoffs-format-qualification-system/c-711015
Now that we’re back, let’s take a look at why the NHL Playoff Format is really fun and better than the NBA Playoffs.
Every rivalry reaches a boiling point. Most of the time, it comes from constantly facing each other during playoff games. Red Sox-Yankees, Lakers-Celtics, Cavs-Warriors to a lesser extent.
The NHL has a fine share of rivalries as well. Some are shared because of their location such as Detroit and Chicago. Both New York and New Jersey has bunch of rivalries as well, from Rangers-Devils to Rangers-Islanders.
There is so much to play. California itself has a three-way rivalry as among the Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings and San Jose Sharks and whoever wins the rivalry will automatically dominate the playoffs almost always.
If it weren’t for the division format, we would not have intense series such as the Ducks vs Kings from 2014. We also would not have one of the interesting ones from this year in the form of Kings vs Golden Knights. There’s also the never-ending plate of meeting between Pittsburgh and Washington.
What makes the NHL Playoffs much more fun is the fact that you can never tell who will be eliminated. Perennial favorites can easily be eliminated with the flick of a wrist.
Give me a recent NBA Playoff Bracket. It was pretty clear that the Warriors and Cavs are going to face each other almost every time. There’s no doubting it.
But take a peek at any Stanley Cup bracket recently and you’ll find upsets can happen anywhere. No matter what format the NHL has had you can find an upset anywhere. In 2012, LA Kings did it the best. They were the 8th Seed and won the Stanley Cup. No other team can say that they, as the lowest seed, beat every top seed they faced in the playoffs.
Repeats are not very common
While other sports have it easy at repeating as champions, the Stanley Cup is one of the most difficult trophies to win twice in a row. The 2015-2016 & 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins are the most recent team to repeat as champions. Can you guess the last time it happened? 1997 & 1998 with the Detroit Red Wings.
Repeats just don’t happen on a whim. Sometimes you could face a goalie who’s playing out of his mind. There will be games where the player you least expect ends up with the game winning goal. Heck, even the fighters can send the defending champion away. A lot of hockey is a game of chance. We even have moments where a team went through a grueling 7 game series and lose because of pure exhaustion. The Penguins definitely suffered that against the Capitals. You can’t blame them. The physical toll of the sport takes a lot out of people.
Sudden Death Overtime
You want to see overtime drama? Watch Overtime in the Playoffs.
Playoff Overtime is a different beast.
Heart-stopping, gut-wrenching action. Every ping of the post makes you think that it’s over but it’s not Regular Season OT has 3 skaters and 1 goalie on each side. Playoff OT uses the standard of 5 skaters and a goalie. And one more thing. They play until there is a winner. That’s right. 20 more minutes after the standard 3 periods. Unlike basketball, playoff hockey has non-stop possession time. Teams don’t take turns. Whoever gets the puck first has the advantage. Every save & hit will get your adrenaline pumping. A swing and a miss can already get people standing. In the end, nothing will beat the joy of seeing your team score in overtime. The Drama of Sudden Death Overtime simply can not be matched.
Naturally Exciting Storylines
This year we have the Vegas Golden Knights against the Washington Capitals playing against each other. By the time this article comes out we may have a winner by then. The Capitals are leading the series 3-1. No matter what the Vegas Golden Knights need to keep their head up high. I, for one, never expected them to get this far. Being down 3 games to 1 is the biggest challenge they have yet. This is a team that was formed from players who were dropped by their old teams. Coach Gerard Gallant has done amazing as well. No longer will he be remembered as the coach who took a cab home after being fired. His ability as a coach has spoken for itself.
Vegas has already done a lot of things that other teams can only dream of. Whatever the end result will be, whether runner-up or Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights have nothing to be ashamed of. Did I mention this is only their first season?
On the other hand, we have the Washington Capitals. The franchise’s last Finals appearance was in the late 90s. The N64 was still a thing. NBA 2K was just starting. Times have changed, the game has changed. Both players and Coaches have a lot left to prove. Coach Barry Trotz has been known for his long tenure with the Nashville Predators. Many thought his move to the Capitals may be a much needed change of scenery. And it definitely was.
They also have Alexander Ovechkin, one of the league’s top stars who has yet to win a championship. He’s been in the league since 2005 and many of his fellow superstars already won the Stanley Cup at some point.
Everyone keeps on saying: will we ever see Ovi win the Cup or will he retire with no rings to his resume? Ovi already got the Penguins off his back. There’s one more monkey to remove.