The Stanley Cup

I'll keep saying it... the NHL playoffs are better than any other playoffs combined (and that's even if you take out the significantly curve-shifting NBA snoozefest they call their playoffs).

So why watch this Cup? Here's a quick list:
  • Arguably the best scoring line (Ottawa's Spezza, Alfredsson, Heatley) versus the 2 best defensemen in the game (Anaheim's Pronger and Niedermayer).
  • 2 goalies who really came into their own this playoff season- Ray Emery for Ottawa proved his critics wrong. J.S. Giguere re-claimed his position as a #1 backstop like the 2003 Conn Smythe winner he is.
  • Overall though, it's the rise of 2 contrasting, but really committed professional hockey clubs in the early stages of the salary cap era.
    • It's interesting that these 2 teams are relative youngsters in the scope of NHL history (you cannot count the former incarnation of the Senators as part of this current club). They are on opposite sides of the hockey universe, both geographically and marketability-wise. Canadian die-hards versus L.A. celebrity bloggers.
    • And to this last point, with the opener in Anaheim... who of the Hollywood scene shows up to the Pond?
  • The Ducks signed Pronger just for a series like this. The Senators traded for Heatley last season to put them where they are- in the Cup Finals. Both teams' master plans have come to fruition quickly. Now it will be interesting to see who's philosophy trumps the other... Ottawa's "Fast and Loose" or Anaheim's "Muck and Grind".
  • It's the Stanley Cup. There's no better trophy in sports. No better hype to raising your teams' championship award than your team Captain taking that large chalice and skating around the rink passing it in turn to every teammate and every coach- the symbolism of teamwork personified through a great tradition.
  • And what other sport ends in teams lining up for a handshake for a battle well fought as they do at the end of an NHL playoff series? The ultimate show of respect. Gentlemen housed inside warriors.
Ah the Stanley Cup. Only the devoted need apply.

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