Why The NHL Playoffs Are The Most Exciting In All Of Sports
The NHL playoffs are coming.
And much like in season five of "Game of Thrones," there is palpable anticipation for the puck to drop on the most exciting postseason in American professional sports.
That's right, I said it.
The annual pursuit of Lord Stanley's Cup is a quest undertaken by 16 teams, all of whom enter the second act of the NHL season with the belief they will hoist the cup come June.
And they have every right to think that.
Since the Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998, no team has managed to win two championships in a row.
And only four teams since 1997 won both the Presidents' Trophy (awarded to the team with the most points in the regular season) and the Stanley Cup.
But while the NHL hasn't had a repeat champion in 16 years, the NBA has only had seven different franchises win a title since 1995.
Think about that one for a while, Golden State, Oklahoma City, Houston and Atlanta fans.
In case you thought this only applied to basketball, just six Major League Baseball franchises won the Fall Classic since 2004.
And only one team other than the Giants and Cardinals won a ring since 2010.
Last year's Stanley Cup champion, the Los Angeles Kings, had the sixth-most points in the Western Conference and needed three seven-game series to reach the finals.
Parity is king.
But, an even playing field is far from the only reason you should be planning your night and weekend social activities around watching the NHL playoffs.
If you're like me, and the rest of this generation for that matter, then you definitely have some degree of ADD or ADHD (or whatever new name they've come up with now to describe it).
And that makes you an ideal NHL fan, even if you don't already realize it.
In the NHL, each team is only allowed one 30-second timeout per game -- not per period, per game.
Tell me I didn't just win you over by saying those drawn-out finishes to both collegiate and professional basketball games don't exist in the NHL.
And cutting to a commercial right after kickoff, despite the fact that we just came back from a commercial break? Ahem, NFL. There's none of that nonsense in hockey.
Yes, there are three 120-second TV timeouts per period, but that varies with the action. Basically, a coach cannot call a timeout every time he or she is looking to stop the opposing team's momentum.
Did you know that in an average NFL game there are roughly 11 minutes of live action? That's 11 minutes out of about 210.
Hey, wake up!
And I like to go drink beers at a baseball game as much as the next person, but can anyone really sit there and watch a 3.5-hour game on television? I think you might actually die of boredom.
Hockey is completely unique in this regard. If you've ever seen a game, you know what I'm talking about.
Hell, going to a regular season hockey game is ratchet, but just watching a playoff game is on another level.
Imagine 18,000 fans waving towels, screaming at the top of their lungs, ready to explode after a goal is scored.
Speaking of scoring, it doesn't happen very much in hockey -- especially during the playoffs.
Similar to soccer, scoring is rare, so the goals have greater significance. No team wants to make a mistake and give up a cheap goal; they're simply too valuable at this stage of the game.
Shifts are shorter, in an effort to keep players fresh, and that means you get to watch players perform at higher levels down the stretch of the most important games.
During the playoffs, fans aren't standing in line for beers and bathroom breaks; they make sure to handle that during the two intermissions between periods.
And should a game be tied at the end of regulation, the NHL playoffs are formatted in true sudden-death fashion -- not that BS the NFL keeps tweaking every few seasons. Teams skate five a side for 20-minute periods until a goal is scored. Period.
I could sit here and argue why the NHL playoffs are the best sporting event to watch until my hands cramp up and I develop early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome, but you really have to see it to believe it.
The 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs start April 15, and if you're ready to have your sports world turned upside down, you better be watching.
Citations: NHL Stanley Cup Winners (Hockey-Reference), NBA Championships: Year by Year Champions (Land of Basketball), MLB World Series Winners (ESPN), NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Rules 2014-2015 (NHL), HEREu2019S A PIE CHART OF HOW LITTLE ACTUAL FOOTBALL THERE IS IN A TELEVISED NFL GAME (Sportsgrid)