Dueling hat tricks from Crosby and Ovechkin
The Hurricanes scoring two goals in the final 80 seconds to eliminate the Devils.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lighting up Luongo in game six to make the Western Conference Finals.
Dany Cleary becoming an offensive threat for Detroit.
The 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs have definitely had their share of great moments.
And they’re not over yet.
Three out of the four conference semi-finals went to seven games. The other series ended in six. Twelve games have gone to overtime thus far. The highlight reels have been full every night. The stars are shining and new stars are being born.
These are definitely the greatest playoffs I can remember.
The games are fast, physical and exciting for a full 60 minutes. But it’s not just the quality of the hockey that has made these playoffs great. It’s the storylines that have emerged.
Just within the final four we have a great story for each club. The Detroit Red Wings are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in eleven years. The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to avenge last year’s loss. The Carolina Hurricanes, with Paul Maurice returning behind the bench, are back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the Cup in 2006 and hoping to regain the championship. The Chicago Blackhawks, with an exciting young core, are trying to end a 48 year Stanley Cup drought.
Playoff heroes are already beginning to emerge. The aforementioned Dany Cleary, along with power forward Johan Franzen, are generating considerable offense on a Detroit team that boasts such world class forwards as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa. Very few people would have predicted Cleary’s 12 points and two game winning goals.
Chicago’s story is the success of their young talent. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have combined for 24 points so far this postseason. These two have never competed in the NHL playoffs before and are performing at a ridiculously high level. Watching two players with a combined age that is six years younger than Detroit’s Chris Chelios tear up the scoresheet is outstanding.
In Carolina, Eric Staal and Cam Ward are the two players most responsible for the Hurricanes’ success. These two have the ability to win games – and series – on their own. Carolina’s sudden comebacks pale in comparision only to the team’s ability to score in bunches.
For the Penguins, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have both definitely stepped up their level of play. The two players currently rank one and two in playoff scoring and one and three in goals. At different times during these playoffs both men have taken their team on their backs and carried them to victory.
To further prove my point, here are some highlights of the 2009 NHL Playoffs thus far:
I can only imagine what the rest of the playoffs will bring us.
Original image available here.