It's been a while since I've wrote anything. But between holidays and the elimination of the Red Wings, well lets just say, I've been quiet. That being said, I'd like to discuss a few things.
As teams go deeper into the playoffs, the intensity mounts, the pace is at break neck speeds. Shots are a blur, passes are tape to tape. Adrenaline masks the pain, teeth are lost, cuts are stitched, all without missing a shift. Sacrificing your body for the team, comes second nature. Keeping your composure under duress and facing adversity is something that can't be taught. But it is contagious through out the team, led by the guys that have been there before. A mental mistake or a system breakdown, could send a team home for a long summer, only to ponder what could have been. All the while chomping at the bit for next year to begin. Some say the Stanley Cup is the hardest Championship in all sports to win. Four rounds of the most grueling hockey imaginable, Sixteen wins and you hoist the Cup. Four losses and you clean out your locker.
The quiet captain, that is #23 Dustin Brown, is the leader of the Los Angeles Kings. I say "quiet," only because he's not a 'Crosby' or an 'Ovechkin'. But he is the leader, and is leading in a way that a captain should. He's hitting everything in a Phoenix jersey. He plays 200 feet of the rink, blocks shots, is on the PK and the PP. Not much recognition, that could be because of where he plays. People in the hockey world are beginning to know his name. The same can be said about all the captains on each of the other teams, #19 Shane Doan of Phoenix, #9 Zach Parise of New Jersey and #24 Ryan Callahan of New York. It is leadership like this that makes a Championship team. The goaltenders have been stellar as well, standing on their heads at times, looking almost human at other times.
Much has been said about the European born players not really understanding what it takes or means to win the Stanley Cup. That a World Cup or Olympic Gold is more prestigious then the Stanley Cup. That is fine in my books, because representing your Country is an honor, but once they taste the champagne out of the Cup they want that feeling back, it is the best hockey league in the world. Anze Kopatar, Ruslan Fedotenko, Alexi Ponikarovsky to name a few have been playing with the desire and determination to win the Stanley Cup.
Regardless the nationality of these NHL hockey players, once you get to the final, that chance may never return and they are making the most of it.
The remaining 4 teams that are left, deserve to be there. They are playing hockey, 'playoff hockey'. The next round is for all the marbles. On one side pure jubilation, on the other, heart wrenching.