1) The Toronto Maple Leafs made it into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years!
2) The Detroit Red Wings earned a playoff spot for the 22nd consecutive year!
3) The New York Rangers are the 6th seed in the East but be careful they could be the Los Angeles Kings of 2012. A fantastic team that could go very far in the playoffs. (Plus they have a very good looking goal tender, while 2 actually and you will learn about one in Episode 3 of Hockey Talk with Courtney debuting later this week)
The playoffs get a lot of talk and it also gets confusing because while everyone is talking about playoffs, the 14 teams that didn't get a spot are getting their lottery pick. Forget about that for now. Enjoy playoffs! Remember the playoffs work different then a regulation game here are the main points to focus on
1) Overtime looks different. In the regular season over time looks like this: 5 minutes of overtime with no break after the 3rd period end, sudden death and if no goal is scored it goes to the shootout. In the playoffs there are NO SHOOTOUTS! If overtime happens it is still sudden death BUT after the 3rd period players get a full intermission break and then head out onto the ice for a full 20 minutes.
2) It is the best of 7 so the team to WIN 4 games first wins the series and moves onto the next round. There are four rounds, the last round is the Stanley Cup Final.
3) The teams seeded 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th get home ice advantage. Meaning the games 1 and 2 are played in their arena, games 3 and 4 are played in the opposing teams arena. If game 5 is needed (remember a team can sweep) it goes back to the home arena and alternates back and forth until game seven if needed.
4) The same number of players dress for every game, coaches and bench staff! (Check out Episode 2 of Hockey Talk with Courtney below to learn about coaches and bench staff)
5)Game #1 is life or death in a series. It can create the entire tone of the series and one team could always be playing catch up.
6) Finally playoffs just look different. It is said the regular season doesn't create rivalries in NHL hockey, the playoffs create rivalries! Case and point the always entertaining Vancouver vs Chicago match ups. They game moves faster, the players are more intense and the physical aspect is amped up a lot!
At the end of the day weather you watched every game during the regular season or are just jumping on the wagon now remember this: The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in professional sports world wide. Not only do teams have to play 82 games during the season they need to win 16 games in the playoffs to get the trophy but they could play as many as 28 games!
7) Lastly, weather you are cheering for the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings or the St Louis Blues, HAVE FUN!