It's not the NBA, it's not the NFL, it's not the MLB, it's not NASCAR, it's not the FIFA World Cup...it's not even the Olympics.
If there's one thing that the first two rounds alone of the 2010 NHL playoffs has told us, it's that the NHL playoffs, at their best, are unlike and exceed every other professional sports competition in the world.
From my, and millions of other thrilled hockey fans across the world, point of view, at least.
In just the first two of the four playoff rounds, we've seen the tale of two conferences, with completely different results, both working towards their ultimate goal and thrilling hockey fans everyone while they're at it. The Western Conference, where the top seeds are doing what they're supposed to do, but definitely not the way they're supposed to do it. The Eastern Conference, where...well, nothing's really gone as planned.
There's no doubt the NHL knew something amazing was going to happen this spring...their many, many editions of a moving "History Will Be Made" commercial theme sure turned out to be a lot more than a catchphrase.
And, now, while journalists, editors, TV broadcasters, and many other just average hockey fans have created an overnight cliché in the line, "History has been made," they're still only getting half the picture.
Truly, that line is correct, and not just for the Flyers series comeback that hasn't been done since 1975, and not just that a seventh and eighth seed will meet in the NHL conference finals for the first time ever (courtesy CSNphilly.com), and not just the Cinderella story of Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak...not, most certainly not only for those reasons.
But, while history clearly has been made in the 2010 edition of the NHL playoffs, and in shocking fashion at that, the fact is, there's still a whole lot more history left to be made over the next three weeks as we inch closer and closer to the legendary Stanley Cup Trophy presentation.
There's just one thing we don't know...to whom will the presentation be?
In the long run, actually, that's going to be a pretty hard prediction to make! While there may only be three more series and a maximum 21 more games before that moment, the NHL still has four very legitimate teams to sort through, each with their own reasoning of why they are going to win the Cup this year.
First, there's the San Jose Sharks, who have the knowledge that they are the highest seed remaining and will have home-ice advantage the entire way, if they keep winning. They have more 2010 Olympians than any other team left, by far the most experienced goaltender (the only goalie that's played in the playoffs more than once before this season—and he's been in seven!), and also a full week of rest!
Then, there's the Chicago Blackhawks, the second-highest seed left, who has a top line that is almost as productive as San Jose's, a goalie with a 34-11-4 record and nine shutouts in just 51 games played during the regular season and playoffs combined, and also the privilege of being the only team who made it this far last season as well.
On the other side of the country is the Philadelphia Flyers, who, despite their low seventh seed, are going to have home-ice advantage in their Conference Finals matchup. They also have a lot of momentum heading their way, as, for most analysts, it's pretty hard to look over both a 3-0 game and 3-0 goal comeback in the same series, which just happened to be capped off last night.
And, last but most certainly not least, is by far the biggest fairytale of the 2010 playoffs; the Montreal Canadiens. It's going to be hard for anyone to beat them when Jaroslav Halak is in the pipes.
He's made sparkling save after sparkling save this postseason and goes in to the Conference Finals with a .933 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average that doesn't even do him justice. Also, the Habs have Mike Cammaleri up on offense, who's blowing away the rest of the competition with a league-leading 12 goals in 13 games played.
While each of the four teams also have their weaknesses—a boatload of injuries in Philadelphia and a totally unheard of goalie in Michael Leighton, overworked superstars in San Jose, another slippery goaltender mess in Chicago, and a star-lacking defense in Montreal—that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Because, no matter who it is or how they do, we know that, at the rate the 2010 playoffs have gone, our excitement isn't over yet. Everyone's a fan this season, whether that be Mark Jones, Bo the Hitchhiker, or Patrick Marleau.
Prepare yourselves, folks. History has been made...but we're still not done yet.
Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist and community leader for the Carolina Hurricanes as well as an avid hockey follower around the NHL. In his 20 months so far with the site, he has written over 190 articles and received over 135,000 total reads.
Visit his profile to read more.
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