Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sportsology: unmatched Stanley Cup intensity

Posted by Rick Morris

Our good pal Russ Cohen at Sportsology has his finger on the pulse of hockey like nobody else I know. Courtesy of our affiliation under the banner of The 21st Century Media Alliance, here is his latest look at the majesty of spring hockey.

They Play For Honor, Respect and THE CUP
By Russ Cohen

I’ve been covering this game for awhile and in no other sport do I see players “paying the price” to win a championship just to drink out of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Every year players are giving themselves up and their teammates are there to pick them up. When I saw Brian Boucher go down, it was terribly sad. He had done such a great job up to that point. Michael Leighton is now the man once again in Philadelphia and somehow this team is still alive in their quest for the Cup. Boston will get a third chance to close out the series Wednesday night.

The NHL has plenty of parity and these playoffs have been the most unpredictable in recent memory, so much so that television ratings are really soaring right now and the Conference Finals haven’t even started. In some series, they are reaching pre-lockout numbers.

There are three Original Six teams still alive and to me that’s the secret formula. That’s no slight to the other teams but for years when the Original Six teams were getting shut out of the playoffs it hurt the sport.

The NFL postseason is grueling but not as grueling as the NHL playoffs because they play less games on the gridiron and to me the punishment that NHL players take sets them apart. We all saw Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash’s eye and how he played with one eye, but let’s face it, hockey players have been doing that for years.

Naysayers can point to a lot of the NHL’s faults but the one thing they get right year after year is the postseason. The fans know the games are exciting and the players elevate their games to extreme levels just to get a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.

And soon after that winning team does that, many of the players from that winning team line up to get operations just so they can try and do it all over again.

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