The beauty of NHL playoffs and hockey’s popularity in the South

Posted on Apr 23 2014 - 8:21am by Dylan Rubino

The NHL playoffs are in full swing, with all eight first round match-ups in the peak of their action and drama.

There are many intriguing match-ups, including Boston vs. Detroit, St. Louis vs. defending champion Chicago and New York vs. Philadelphia.

Growing up in Connecticut, I never played hockey, but I grew to love the Boston Bruins and the passion that surrounds the NHL. When I started school at Ole Miss, I realized hockey was an afterthought when it came to professional sports.

In the South, and in Southern culture, hockey is a sport that does not get enough attention and is pushed to the side in favor of football, basketball and baseball.

In hockey, there is constant action.

If you blink, you might miss something.

A player could be slammed against the boards. The whole arena erupts, and you are left wondering what all the cheering is about. A goal could be scored at any given moment or a penalty could be called, giving your favorite team a man advantage on a power play.

The NHL has parity that no other professional sports league has.

In basketball and baseball, there are certain teams that you know will win the championship every year, but in hockey, surprises are just a part of the game.

Only two years ago, the Los Angeles Kings, the eight-seed in the western conference, won the Stanley Cup. Upsets happen all the time in the playoffs.

In some sports, you need one star player to win a championship. In hockey, you need a strong team to win the cup. The team with the best record in the regular season has won the cup only twice in the past ten seasons. The last team to repeat a championship in consecutive seasons were the Detroit Red Wings in 1996 and 1997. This is a big factor as to why the league should draw more fans.

The NHL playoffs are one of the most exciting times in sports. Hopefully this excitement branches out to the South like it does elsewhere in America.

— Dylan Rubino