The chairs have been removed, the music chosen, and the dance floor is prepped. On Wednesday, the NHL's "Second Season" begins, as the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup kicks off. While the NFL may be the biggest sport in the country, and make a boat load of money, football's playoffs simply cannot compare to the war of attrition that is about to begin. Four best of seven series, against an opponent that will now hate you for the duration of their career.
This isn't something you choose to do, it is something you are born to do.
Many people criticize the NHL playoffs because they include 16 out of 30 teams. It must be amazingly easy to get in, right? Judging by the fact that the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks had to wait for the result of the Wild game against the Dallas Stars, the very last game played in the NHL regular season, to know if they were in or not would suggest otherwise.
The marathon of 82 games ends, and the intensity ratchets up. Any cliche you want to throw out is useless, as words cannot describe the atmosphere surrounding these games. Players will attempt to play with broken bones, gaping, bloody wounds, and snapped ligaments. It doesn't matter.
All that matters now is the Cup.
Your first round match ups:
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks
#2 San Jose Sharks vs #7 Los Angeles Kings
#3 Detroit Red Wings vs # 6 Phoenix Coyotes
#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Nashville Predators
#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres
#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Stay tuned to both SBNation Minnesota and Hockey Wilderness for playoff coverage.