One of the best communities here at Bleacher Report is the hockey one. The passion of the game on the ice lends itself to great fandom. The Stanley Cup Playoffs might be the best professional playoff tournament and they are about to start.
After the epic Olympic tournament, it was a shame that there was a lull caused by the NHL's terrible TV contract. Say what you will about ESPN, the NHL gets so many more eyeballs on their great game when it is on there three nights a week.
The two best players are in the East right now. Sidney Crosby just notched his 500th career point at the age of 22. Only two NHL players have reached 500 faster and they were called The Great One and The Magnificent One.
As good as Crosby is, with a Stanley Cup and an Olympic-winning goal, Alex Ovechkin might be an even better player. He has been called a hurricane on skates for the way he plays the game.
Crosby leads a very talented Pittsburgh Penguin team while Ovechkin is the leader of the leading point team in the NHL, the Washington Capitols.
Washington is the only 100-point team in the East while the West has four right now. San Jose is number one again in the West but that has not helped them find Stanley Cup success. Chicago is a young team that has been improving each year. Despite real turmoil over their future, Phoenix has put together a very nice season.
The appeal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is that they are such a grind. It takes 16 wins to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup and the games are every other night. Winning in a short series is the only way to grab some rest.
And there is nothing like a Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Another quirk of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the re-seeding that occurs after the first round. Eight seeds have been known to knock off one seeds but they do not play the winner of the four/five seed series.
Any true playoff preview might not even have the right teams playing in the second round. For example, Washington is the one seed in the East and Pittsburgh is currently the four but they are not guaranteed to meet in the second round even if they both win their first round series.
I am going to pick the San Jose Sharks out West. They have a horrible habit of not taking a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series. They play great hockey all year long to secure a high seed and then lose all of that work in the first few games of the playoffs.
But not this year as they live up to their regular season and run through the West.
The Washington Capitols are the best team in the NHL right now and they will make their way through the rugged East. More than likely Ovechkin and Crosby will cross paths and if it is like last year's epic seven game series, then hockey fans will be in for a treat.
The Stanley Cup Finals can sometimes be a bore but with the two best teams in each conference making it, look for an amazing Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stanley Cup Finals will be on NBC and that is good for the NHL. I do hope that they fix their current TV situation, the game of hockey deserves more attention.