NHL Playoffs 2012: Unpredictable Doesn't Begin to Describe It

Mike Miller@@mykeymillerContributor IIApril 16, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: Unpredictable Doesn't Begin to Describe It

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    Hockey is a sport that’s much different than the other North American major sports.  It has three periods. It’s played with skates.  It’s played on ice.  And one thing that differentiates it even more is the unpredictability of its playoffs. 

    The 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs have proven themselves to be anything but predictable.  Dennis Green is famous for a quote he gave while coaching the Arizona Cardinals: “They are who we thought they were.” 

    That is not something that can be said about the teams in the playoffs or the players playing on those teams.

    Hockey is truly unpredictable and so are it's playoffs.  Here are some observations:

That Guy Underneath Is 6'7" Tall, Really

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    Being big doesn’t mean you are a tough guy.

    In a move that reminded people of the movie Slap Shot, Brian Boyle was pummeled by Matt Carkner in Game 2 of the Ranger vs. Senators series.  It was so bad that Matt Carkner got a one game suspension for the incident. 

    How does a 6’7” guy get beat like he stole something in that fashion?  It will be interesting to see how Brian Boyle and the Rangers respond in Game 3.

    The Rangers should win but Boyle might want to take up some boxing lessons.

When You Are a Big Star You Get Away with a Little More Than the No Namers

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    When the replay was shown over and over again of Shea Weber smashing Henrik Zetterberg’s face into the glass there was only one question being asked—how many games will he get? 

    This is the new NHL where this kind of behavior is not tolerated, right?  When the penalty was made public and it was only a $2,500 fine, people were shocked and Red Wings fans were outraged. 

    Most people have written it off to Weber’s star power and the league’s need to be successful in Nashville.  Without Weber, Nashville would really struggle in that series.  Who knows what the reason is.  The punishment didn’t fit the crime in this case. 

    Duncan Keith got five games in the regular season for his elbow against Sedin earlier in the year.  Weber should have gotten at  minimum, a one game suspension.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

When You’re a Rookie Goalie People Shouldn’t Take You Lightly

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    In two games vs. the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins, Holtby has let in two goals.  One of those was in overtime.  He is squaring off against one of the better goaltenders of the last few years in Tim Thomas. 

    Someone I know who is a rabid Bruins fan, didn’t give the Capitals a shot before the series began.  Right now the Capitals are close to a right bounce from having a 2-0 series lead. 

    I guess the old saying is true: Never judge a book by its cover.  In this case, never write off a goalie based on experience alone.  Oh yeah there are a few guys that play in front of him that seem to be out to prove something as well.

    This series has seven written all over it. 

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, Well Octopi and Rats Anyway

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    In Florida they throw rats, yes rats.  Florida is one of the younger franchises in the NHL.  They don’t have a lot of traditions like some of the other clubs around. 

    One tradition they do have is that the fans throw plastic rats on the ice.  This tradition goes back to the clubs lone trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.  It stuck, and this year the rats are out in force.

    In Detroit the fans throw octopus on the ice.  The eight tentacles symbolize how many games it used to take to win the Cup back in the day.  It’s something unique to Hockey and to Detroit. 

    Yes it’s odd.  Yes it’s kind of gross.  The question I have is how or where do the people smuggle those suckers (pun intended) into the games or are they allowed to just roll into the Joe carrying fresh octopus in their purse?

    I don't remember any crazy traditions like this in any other sport.  I'm sure they exist but none come to mind.

Presidents Trophy Winner, What Does That Mean Exactly?

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    When the playoffs started, the Kings were not given a chance, well not by many.  The Canucks were the clear favorite going into the playoffs in the Western Conference. 

    After all, they were the Champions last year and were one game short of winning it all.  They came into this year's playoffs as the Presidents' Trophy winner.  They were riding a huge winning streak and didn't seam to miss there leading scorer Sedin one bit.

    Now the Canucks are one game away from making tee times.  The coach has made changes, they have modified game plans and have outplayed the Kings at times.  None of it has mattered where it counted—on the score board.

    The other Sedin almost got put out of the series on a legal hit.  One wonders if the Canucks have anything left to throw at the Kings.

    One thing is certain, if Quick continues to play like his Vezina candidate season, L.A. will win and be on to the second round.

    Oh and all the stars are out in L.A. with the Kings playing well.  Thank you band wagoners.  Don't break your ankles jumping off when you do.  Oh and can any of you tell me what Icing is?

Offense Anyone?

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins have gone from Stanley Cup favorite to absolute disaster.  The Philadelphia Flyers entered the series without any fear of the Penguins.  They felt they matched up well and had a decent shot of winning the series against their cross state rivals.

    Early in Game 1 it looked as if the Penguins were going to take it to the Flyers.  It seemed like the Flyers had no answer for their fire power. 

    Then something happened. 

    The multimillion dollar goalie Bryzgalov woke up and started playing.  Then came the Flyers offense.  The Flyers have woken up and started scoring.  They have scored 20, yes 20 goals in three games.   

    On top of everything else, all world goalie Marc Andre Fleury seems to have lost his mojo.  Not only is he allowing guys to score, he is scoring on himself. 

    The Wheels seem to have come off the freight train in Pittsburgh.  They have one game left to prove themselves and can earn another if they play to their potential.

    One last thing—the absolute craziest thing of all in this series is the Penguins are so far off of their game they are playing cheap, taking stupid penalties, dropping the gloves, etc.  If the Penguins don’t right the ship they will be talking about next year and what should have been.

Lots of Playoff Hockey to Go. Who Will Win It? Better Pay Attention.

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    It's still early in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  In a week the Penguins or Canucks might come all the way back from three down.  Holtby might get lit up like a pinball machine the next time he faces the Bruins.  Heck anything might happen.  Most of the things that will happen no one will predict. 

    For those that love hockey, it's differences both large and subtle, we understand the unpredictable nature of the sport.  We understand that unlike just about any other sport, making it in to the playoffs is a big deal.  We understand that an eighth seed has a reach chance if they play with heart and as a team. 

    Some announcers say it makes it hard to follow the regular season because it doesn't mean anything.  For those that do follow the NHL, playoffs like this make it that much sweeter. 

    No other sport can compete with hockey on that. 

    Take the NBA for example.  Last year the dream team in Miami did just about everything it was supposed to do. Rarely is their a big upset in the NBA. 

    This year two of the teams favored to win the cup may be gone in the first round.  Why or how is that possible?  Because it's the Cup.