This Stanley Cup Playoff season has really been one about the stories. From teams to personal stories, there hasn’t been a moment where NBC and it’s affiliates couldn’t run a short heartwarming story during intermission or show proud parent sitting in the crowd. From NJ to LA everyone is making the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs something special.
Working from East to West here’s a look at some of the stories that have captured the NHL:
The youth of the league is gaining attention right now. And I’m not talking those in contention for the Calder, but rather those recalled too late for a nomination. I’m looking at you, Chris Kreider and Braden Holtby. Together they are blowing away expectations and redefining the playoffs for the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Kreider has two game winning goals and Holtby has been making saves that would cause even the most seasoned veteran quake. Holtby has played in 18 NHL games, more playoff games than regular season games. In his time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, he’s managed to go 6-5-3 with a 1.93 GAA and a .933 SV%. Kreider has even fewer games, missing the regular season due to his Frozen Four winning time with his college team, Boston College. In 9 NHL Stanley Cup playoff games, he’s managed 2 goals and an assists.
Now it’s not fair to give the attention to the youth, because there’s more than enough veteran action going around. Two of the biggest names that are 40 years old (drafted in 1990), Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur. As everyone sits with bated breath waiting for the New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers series to come to a close, it is mind blowing to think that this is Brodeur’s 17th appearance in the playoffs in a 19 season career. And Jarg has played in 16 playoffs in 19 seasons. Not too shabby for a guy recovering from an injury riddled season and a guy back from 3 seasons with the KHL.
Moving west you have Shane Doan and the Phoenix Coyotes making a run for the Cup despite their questionable future. But it’s not even them that’s impressive, running down the teams that are left: LA Kings, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and the Coyotes are all teams that have yet to win the Stanley Cup. These teams are showing you don’t need to be in a big hockey market to draft well, play well, and win.
The overwhelming majority of Twitter, when asked this morning, agreed that the biggest story of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is Jonathan Quick and the LA Kings. While so many teams have come out playing at a level fans have never seen before, the LA Kings have managed to make history in their quest for the Cup. Never has an 8th place seed manage to knock out the 1st and 2nd place seed. A team that struggled to make it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, managed to knock out not only the Vancouver Canucks, but they also managed to sweep the St. Louis Blues. Yeah sure, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have helped push this team to an unreal level, but credit is due to the man between the pipes, Jonathan Quick. His skill is unmatched. The Kings have not made the Conference Finals since 1992-1993, when they went on to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals. Since then, the team has not advanced past the Semifinals.
“History Will Be Made” commercials ran too early. This Stanley Cup Playoffs will be one for the history books, one to remember, one to tell your kids “I remember when…”