The 2009-2010 NHL season is officially in the books, with the Chicago Blackhawks coming out of the playoff grind as Stanley Cup champions. There’s still the NHL awards, the NHL Entry Draft and free agency to look forward to, but as for the on ice action, that will be on break until the exhibition season starts in September. So before we all sail into the off-season and go into hockey hibernation, here’s a look back at the 2010 NHL playoffs.
Two huge hockey markets got to benefit from being in the Stanley Cup final and one of those teams ended a lengthy Cup drought. Not only that, but after two years of watching Detroit and Pittsburgh in the final, having different teams battling for Lord Stanley’s Cup was refreshing for fans of the game. Marian Hossa finally lifted the Cup. Dan Boyle pulled a Steve Smith. The Nashville Predators almost won a playoff round. Roberto Luongo didn’t cry after having his usual second round meltdown. History was made (and not just in the over-used commercials made by the NHL). The Philadelphia Flyers became just the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win the series 4-3. But as exciting as it was, the 2009-10 Boston Bruins will also go down in history as the team that completely blew a commanding 3-0 series lead, and suffered one of the biggest embarrassments in sports.
There were emerging stars this year, like Jaroslav Halak and Ville Leino, and feel-good stories like Michael Leighton and the Montreal Canadiens (well until they imploded in the third round, and reminded the hockey world that they were, in fact, the eighth seed in the Conference). The San Jose Sharks actually made it past the second round, only to be completed out-played, out-classed and swept by the Blackhawks, once again sending the Cup thirsty Sharks into a summer of self-doubt. Teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes gave their fans a real treat. A hockey game in mid-April.
The Washington Capitals were without a doubt the biggest disappointment of the 2010 NHL playoffs – knocked out in the first round after winning the President’s trophy and finishing the season with 121 points. Their loss to the Canadiens was shocking, not only because Montreal finished with 38 less points in the regular season, but because the domination the Capitals had all year made them look like a shoe-in for the Stanley Cup. Especially with Alex Ovechkin as their captain, because he knows how to lead a team to victory. Well, just not in the Olympics. Or the World Championships. Or the playoffs. But at least he scores great goals when the game is already out of reach in his teams favor.
The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins had the unfortunate experience of being bounced from the playoffs in a game in which they fell behind 4-0 in game seven. On home ice. In the last game ever played at Mellon Arena. No one will ever forget these 2010 nhl playoffs, especially not Duncan Keith who gets to shine his Stanley Cup ring as he spends the remainder of his summer in the dentist chair. Patrick Kane will always remember his Stanley-cup clinching goal, although it is a shame nobody else got to see it. Chris Pronger has a lovely set of pucks to keep as souvenirs to remind him of the surprising playoff run the Flyers went on. Okay, it’s no Stanley Cup, but they will look much better on his mantle then the framed picture of himself from the Chicago Tribune. In this years playoffs, hero’s were made, villains were born, and rivalries were formed. And the best part about it all? We get to do this all over again in 10 months. Happy summer!