Monday, April 18, 2011

The Second Most Wonderful Time of the Year

After the NCAA Hockey Tournament and the Frozen Four, it's the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No, I won't say that claiming the national championship trophy is as storied as picking up Lord Stanley's prize - it's just that college hockey is as sudden death as you can get. Win four and you're number one; lose one and you're done.

The Stanley Cup champion, meanwhile, will have slogged through four rounds of attrition, and as many as 28 games in all before getting the chance to hoist the celebrated 35-pound silver chalice. The first round is arguably the best, with eight series going on in all, and as many as four games on TV a night.

I've still got college players on the cranium watching the pros play in the post-season, though. San Jose beat Los Angeles in the opener of their Western Conference series on Thursday night as Joe Pavelski wristed a shot past Jon Quick in overtime. The first thought that came to my mind was that Wisconsin just put the puck past Massachusetts - and they won't be the last former college skaters in the spotlight as the first round turns into the second, and third and fourth. Perhaps another former NCAA player a la Jonathan Toews will again be the very first player to hold the Cup high when everything is finally sorted out sometime in June.

The only bad thing about the playoffs, NHL or AHL or ECHL, is as the number of participating teams dwindles and you finally get down to the last two, you know another hockey season is almost over and then it's going to be wait until October again.

Luckily that's not for almost another two months.

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