The Top 10 Stories That Will Define The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The NHL playoffs are always the greatest time of the year. The faster paced action and high octane nature of the game make it the best playoffs for any sport.
The blood, sweat, and tears that players put into the game drive their team to the most coveted trophy in sports.
Every year there are several events that really define the playoffs, and make it a lasting memory in the hearts and minds of all hockey fans.
This year is no different, as many story lines are developing, and really have seemed to make a huge impact on these playoffs. The following is a look at the top 10 story lines that have impacted the playoffs this year.
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10. Prospect Power
A couple players that really never got the chance in the regular season have worked their way into the lineup and stepped up.
Namely P.K. Subban and Johnny Boychuk have really stepped up in the playoffs when called upon.
Subban has played in six playoff games for the Montreal Canadiens, and has already been one of their best defensemen. Subban has been a rock on the back end, and is not afraid to mix it up with other teams' best players. Subban has shown some offensive upside as well, recording three points in six games thus far.
Johnny Boychuk of the Boston Bruins has been a tower on the back end, laying massive checks, and keeping calm on one of the top pairings. He's been a steady, intimidating force on the blue line so far.
Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn have also played well for the San Jose Sharks.
All of these players will likely find a full time spot on their respective clubs next season.
9. Brooms Collecting Dust
It's very rare that we don't see a sweep in the playoffs. However after 12 series thus far we have yet to see as single series sweep.
In both the East and West several series were not expected to go very far, yet the underdog in each series has always made it interesting.
The fact that their hasn't been a sweep is really making this an exciting playoffs. Games are more closely contested then ever before, and it makes for one of the better playoffs in recent memory.
8. Resurgent Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are quite possibly the most notorious team in the league for choking come playoff time.
Seemingly every year after an amazing regular season their stars fizzle out, and the Sharks fade into the ether, but unlike years past the supporting cast have propped the team up and carried them onwards.
The likes of Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe have really helped the team tremendously, and the Sharks seem to have more confidence then ever before.
We are even seeing infamous playoff performers like Patrick Marleau, Danny Heatley and Joe Thornton step up their game, which is a very frightening thought.
After dispatching the Avalanche and Red Wings they'll look to take down the Blackhawks or Canucks, as they make an appearance in the conference finals for the first time in six years.
7. Sea of Support
The NHL always gets good crowds in the playoffs, but this year it seems like more support is pouring in from all areas of the league.
The Phoenix Coyotes most notably had amazing support in the playoffs with their version of the sea of white. Other crowds have banded together in the same fashion. Ottawa and Washington strapped on the red, Pens fans are rocking the white, and the towels are flying in Van city and Montreal.
All teams have received amazing crowds, and support that has not been seen in previous years.
6. Too Many Men
The sheer number of too many men on the ice penalties this playoffs has been staggering.
It's an epidemic.
Last year there were only 21 too-many-men penalties the whole playoffs. So far this year, half way through the second round, the number has climbed into the 30s.
These penalties have been extremely costly, and have even cost teams the game.
Hopefully sooner or later the coaches and players will get their signals straight, otherwise it could very well change the shape of a series.
5. Goaltender Interference
It seems every playoffs this topic rears its ugly head, and every year they talk at length about what to do about it, and nothing gets done.
While there is no issue with players parking in front of the net, it's when they start bumping the goalie that it becomes an issue, and this year it seems to be an especially prevalent topic.
The Eastern and Western conferences also seem to have different standards on how to deal with the issue.
In the East if a player gets bumped and the puck goes in it immediately gets called off, but no penalty is assessed. Something we have never seen before, but apparently has been a rule for some time now.
In the West players can crash and bang the goalie all they want, and nothing gets done (ex: Roberto Luongo getting pushed into the net for a goal).
Goalies should not be interfered with when they are in the blue paint; if contact occurs from the attacking player that at all hinders the goalies ability to make a save it should be a penalty.
It really isn't that difficult but the NHL simply has different standards for assessing this situation. Something should be done.
4. Eastern Upsets
While the Western Conference was fairly straight forward in the matchups, nobody could have predicted the outcome of the East.
It is very rare that after the first round the fourth seeded team has home ice advantage, but they were the only favorite team that managed to win.
The Philadelphia Flyers easily handled the New Jersey Devils in five games.
The Boston Bruins managed to slip past the Buffalo Sabres in six games.
And most shocking of all the Montreal Canadiens fought their way past the heavily favored Washington Capitals in a seven game thriller.
The East has certainly been exciting to watch.
3. Young Goalies
With so many inexperienced playoff goalies going into the playoffs, it has been quite surprising at most of the results.
Jaroslav Halak to some Canadiens fans is the next coming of Patrick Roy. Halak has been shelled in net, but has come up very strong. Allowing only 25 goals on nearly 400 shots is remarkable. Halak is the single biggest reason why the Habs beat he Caps.
Tuukka Rask out-dueled Ryan Miller in the first round. Rask has been stellar in goal for the Bears. The Bruins beat the Sabres and are looking to dispatch of the Flyers as well. Rask certainly doesn't look like a rookie.
Another rookie sensation in Jimmy Howard had a terrific playoffs after taking over from Chris Osgood in the regular season. The Wings defeated the Coyotes largely due to his efforts in goal. Despite receiving the highest number of shots against for any goalie, Howard stood tall for the Wings.
And while being a little inconsistent, Antti Niemi has also shouldered a lot of the load for the Hawks.
All playoffs long fans have been screaming conspiracy over events that took place over the course of the first two rounds.
Canadians are up in arms over many missed calls, and questionable judgment by officials and the league itself (ex: the Daniel Sedin goal).
Many fans are wondering if Gary Bettman is trying to make the road a little easier for teams such as Pittsburgh and Chicago to make the finals.
While there are a lot of compelling arguments that have been made, it may just be a case of paranoia for a group of hungry Canadians looking for the Cup to return home.
1. Poor Officiating
The number one story in the playoffs thus far is the incompetence shown by the officials so far.
They have been very inconsistent at best.
With numerous missed calls, confusing calls, and weak calls, they really do not have their act together. Something that is a penalty one game is not in another, and even something that is as a penalty for one team is not for another.
It may stem from several veteran officials retiring over the past couple seasons, or quite possibly a lack of training, but something has to be done about it, because it is ruining what has been an exceptional playoffs.