As the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs has come to a close, fans have been treated to a little bit of everything. We’ve seen the president trophy winning Vancouver Canucks get manhandled by the 8th place L.A. Kings. We saw the Stanley Cup favourite Penguins fall to the Philadelphia Flyers, even the defending champs got sent packing, but more than anything we’ve seen some of the rough stuff.
Many members of the media, writers and analysts that are seen on TV have written about and complained about the way the 2012 playoffs have been played thus far. Many have deemed it barbaric, too violent, dangerous; even the governor-general has come out in The Canadian Press to condemn the example being set for children with the recent rash of violence in this years playoffs. Many have referred to these playoffs as a circus. My only question is though, who doesn’t love the circus? Now without a doubt there have been many plays that have crossed the line, (Torres on Hossa, Asham on Schenn ect.) but has this not been one of the most enjoyable NHL playoffs we’ve seen in a long time? Well, fans seem to think so.
Even with all the debate around the way the game has been played the last couple weeks, ratings are at an all time high for the NHL, most notably for the Pens-Flyers series which was without a doubt the nastiest, and I loved it! Although you will hear from a ton of people about how they don’t like the fighting, the pushing and shoving after the whistle, or the trash talking. But this is playoff hockey. Everything gets amplified in the playoffs, emotions are at a high and there is nothing better than watching two teams that just hate each other go head-to-head. The trash talk and the pushing and shoving and all that is part of the package, and it makes it so much better. How many people in the first round really focused on the New Jersey-Florida match up? If you weren’t a fan of one of those teams I would hazard a guess to say you didn’t flip to watch these games as regularly. There was no story, no rivalry and although it was a well-played series, it got no ones attention. Go back to the Flyers-Penguins series, which in most categories was played terribly–no discipline, no defence, no goaltending–but it was the most exciting. Two teams that hated each other and wanted to beat the other one, both on the scoreboard and physically. The crowd was way more into it, the players looked more into it and the fans got more into it. I loved watching the raw emotion boil over at every whistle, two teams just trying to get the advantage in any way they could.
This is the playoffs, and for every one journalist saying how bad this is for the game and how it sets a bad example, there are twenty fans screaming at the top of their lungs loving every minute of. It is smash mouth beat ‘em up good ol’ Canadian hockey. Playoffs have been played this way forever, and though I could go without the head hits and the real dirty plays, if you start taking the scrums and the trash talk out of the game then you lose what makes the playoffs special. It’s the spectacle and the show, who cares if it’s a little bit of a circus, as a fan, I just can’t wait for the circus to come to my town.