Hockey fans across North America like myself are enjoying what might be the most wonderful time of the year; the beginning of the NHL playoffs.
Playoff hockey might be the highest quality hockey out there, as the players involved up the intensity level as they battle for the Stanley Cup. The fans get into it too, selling out each and every building on game night.
TV coverage increases as well, as U.S. cable network Versus typically shows two games per night, as does CBC and TSN in Canada.
The best part of the first two rounds of the playoffs is the sheer volume of games being played, and the quality of those games.
I long for the days when ESPN and ESPN 2 televised the Stanley Cup playoffs, when four games would be televised in one night. I'd park myself on the couch and flip back and forth between the ESPN game and the one playing on "the deuce".
Unfortunately for U.S. based hockey fans, ESPN no longer televises the NHL. Last year, Versus only televised on Monday and Tuesday nights in the playoffs, and NBC only does one game on Saturday afternoon. But this year, they televise every night, and most nights it's two games a night.
Despite the dropoff in coverage from the early- to mid-90's, this is truly a great time of year for hockey fans.
The games mean more, the players play harder, and each shift, check, pass, shot, save and goal mean so much more, with Lord Stanley's Cup on the line.