Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The NHL Regular Season Kind of Really Doesn't Matter

The NHL Playoffs have been awesome as usual. Players laying it all out, diving in front of shots and giving up their bodies for the sake of their team. And this style of play, and the white knuckling viewing it creates for the fans, seems to be paying off for the NHL. Ratings have been through the roof both locally and on a national level. (See @dcsportsbog posts)

We've often wrote that the NHL, of all of the big 4 sports,  benefited the most from the advent of HDTV. The puck and play became so much easier to follow, which was a huge plus for the fans at home. (Remember those stupid blue streaks the TV donks implemented pre-HDTV?)

But its not just the HD experience that takes the NHL to another level come playoff time. It is the "all out" play by the players, that seems to resonate with the fans. And its this style of play that seems to shed light on what, in my opinion, has become a pretty meaningless NHL regular season.

Last night with 40 minutes to go in the NY Rangers/Ottawa Senators Game 6, the NHL was staring at losing both the Eastern and Western Conference 1 seeds, 6 games into the post season. Where else in professional sport does that happen? It's never happened in the NBA, according to my buddy @MustRockTheRed.

Now granted, the NY Rangers did prevail last night, but still will be playing a game 7 on Thursday night. The Eastern Conference's 2 seed, Boston Bruins, will also be playing a Game 7 for their playoff lives, Wednesday night against our beloved Capitals. Having already lost the 1 seed in the West, a loss by the Rangers on Thursday would truly be head scratching, but just another reminder that when it comes to the NHL and its regular season, it truly only matters to end up being one of the top 8 teams in your respective conference.

And to have a hot goalie, come April.

NHL regular season: More up tempo, less defensive-stressed type hockey. Like this version:

Then the NHL Playoffs start, and the play seems to be more close to the vest. Not quite the same wide open style of play. Its the same "song", but its not: Now, yes it is true, I primarily embedded these videos because I love dogs and I think this is a money song by OK Go. However, you see the point I'm making regarding the difference between the NHL play during the regular season, and what we're seeing now.

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