2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Just What the NHL Needs

Sixty Feet, Six Inches Correspondent IMay 16, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 14:  Dennis Seidenberg #4 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates with teammates on the bench in the first period against the Boston Bruins during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Hurricanes defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

For baseball it was the chase of Maris' home run record that helped the fans return to a game that had seen a decline in popularity due to a strike. Now, it appears that this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs are exactly what they needed to reignite interest in a league which has suffered since the lockout canceled season of 2004-05.

It started with the New Jersey/Carolina series in the First Round, which featured both a buzzer beater and a miraculous come-from-behind victory for the Hurricanes in Game Seven against one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the sport.

Then in the Second Round we had a matchup that every hockey fan was longing for, Penguins vs. Capitals. Crosby vs. Ovechkin.

At first it appeared that this series was going to only go four games with the Caps taking the first two games in a convincing manner, but Pittsburgh won the next three to bring the series to a 3-2 Pens lead. The Caps won a fantastic Game Six that went into overtime, forcing a Game Seven. Sadly, Game Seven was a blowout and a bit of a letdown, but it was still an exciting series that saw five of the seven games decided by one goal with three going into overtime.

This wasn't the only exciting Second Round matchup, though. Of the four series, three went to a seventh game.

Carolina again provided a lot of great hockey to watch in their contests with Boston. The final game of that series is everything that playoff hockey is about. A Game Seven sudden death overtime. Scott Walker's goal with 2:14 left in the first overtime sent Carolina to the Conference Finals for the third time in franchise history.

So now the playoffs move to the Conference Finals where the Eastern Conference will feature a very interesting matchup and the Western Conference will have a rivalry as old as the league itself.

Carolina and Pittsburgh are both just wrapping up series that went the distance, and they will begin their series in The Burgh on Monday.

Meanwhile, two Original Six foes will meet in the West. Detroit and Chicago will renew their hate in Hockeytown on Sunday.

The NHL really couldn't ask for better Conference Final matchups. All four teams have some of the most passionate fan bases in the league which will make the atmospheres in all of the arena's absolutely deafening.

Regardless of what teams make the Stanley Cup Final, it will be a fantastic series. All four of these teams are great and I would not be surprised to see any of them skate off with Lord Stanley.

The NHL needed something to help bring the national interest back to the sport, and this is definitely it. In my lifetime of watching hockey, I have not seen a playoff more exciting than this one, and from the amount of people I actually hear talking about hockey recently, I think others have taken notice.

Sixty Feet, Six Inches is an Indianapolis based sports blog covering a wide range of sports. If you like what you read here, check out our home page for more. Sixty Feet, Six Inches

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