SEARCH THE UPPER DECK BLOG
As a sports fan living in United States in May, you’ve got some really great options in terms of what to watch on television. The good news is that I’m here to help. I’m not talking about whether to watch “American Idol” or “Law & Order,” I’m talking about what you should be watching if you’ve got testosterone pumping in your veins and team jerseys hanging in your closet.
You could watch baseball, but really, it’s just a few weeks into the season. It’s way too early to believe anything you’re seeing. I mean the San Diego Padres have the best record in the National League. Do you really think that’ll be true in September? I’m a Padres fan and even I know this is an anomaly. So unless you are hitting the ballpark, you don’t need to watch baseball right now.
What about the basketball playoffs? I’ll be honest; although I’m a huge hoops fan, unless I’m at a game, I have a hard time actually paying attention until the fourth quarter. When I do zone back in, chances are it’s a blowout anyway. And then they take three or four days’ off at times, I’m not even sure the Lakers have played in May. There is something better out there.
My fellow Americans, promise me you’ll watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m fairly certain the NHL is the reason why God invented High Definition television. I’m not after those of you who know who the Original Six are; I’m after those of you who think the Original Six is a breakfast special at Denny’s or an old Lee Marvin film. I’m calling out those of you who can’t name one player on your nearest NHL team. And to do it, I’m bringing out one of my favorite tools to convince you. That’s right; it’s the Top 10 list for why you should watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
#10 – Embrace the goalies. The guys in the net have got so much game they should just have a referee cruising around with them 24/7. From the awesome designs on their helmets to the catlike reflexes they exhibit when pucks are fired at them like they’re being shot out of a cannon, goalies are just awesome. And there is nothing cooler than watching a hot goalie. You’ve got to see Jaroslav Halak on the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s a guy who almost got traded during the season and is now playing out of his mind, especially when his team is on the brink of elimination. If he stays hot, you are in for a real treat.
#9 – Take five minutes and find the Vs. channel on your TV. Why do you need to know where the Vs. channel is? Because it’s a testament to everything a true sports fan wants, which is more sports channels. We need more than the four-letter network can provide us. Learn where they are at and find hockey bliss. And hey, you may even fall in love with bull riding while you’re at it.
#8 – The players are the ultimate role models for men. I mean these guys can grow a full beard while driving to the rink! They’re crashing into the boards and dropping the gloves to scrap more frequently than you hear Lindsay Lohan’s name on TMZ. And have you seen the girls these guys date? They are off the charts…I mean God bless the puck bunnies!
#7 – If your team makes the NHL playoffs, they have a chance to win. You can’t say that about other sports. The Chicago Bulls didn’t have a chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Atlanta Hawks didn’t have a shot of beating the Orlando Magic. In the NHL though, #8 seeds can beat #1 seeds and even advance further. Anything can happen in the playoffs for the NHL and that’s what makes it awesome.
#6 – Zdeno Chara. You may be asking yourself, “What’s that?” That’s exactly my point. He’s a 6’ 9” defenseman for the Boston Bruins from Slovakia. Yeah, he’s as tall as some NBA forwards, and oh yeah, he skates. I met him last year and have been having nightmares about the encounter ever since. He’s playing in a huge Game 7 match against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, so you won’t to miss it. Your TV may shake when he checks Philly’s players.
#5 – Fighting. Mind you, I’m not condoning violence, but there’s something really cool about seeing a couple guys let out their frustrations by throwing punches while on ice skates. And these guys know how to rumble. If you ever see a fight in the NBA, it’s just pushing and shoving. If they do throw a punch, they are so lanky, they never connect. Watching the NBA players fight is more awkward than watching that forced Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie kiss at the MTV Awards Show from years ago. Hockey players however know what they are doing when it comes to a brawl.
#4 – Don’t you remember playing hockey video games when you were younger? There was nothing better. Do you remember Blades of Steel? What about NHL 93 on SEGA where you could lay out a player making their head bleed and then watch it on replay? You loved that right? Don’t tell me the rules are too hard for you, because you know what icing is, that’s why you always turned if off on the settings when you played the video game. That hockey lover is still somewhere inside you. I can feel it. Give him the remote control; he’ll be able to find Vs.
#3 – The games are more exciting than anything else you’ll see on TV this May. There is seldom a blowout in playoff hockey and if there is, they’ll pull the freaking goalie and really make things fun. The players never phone it in and are always out there giving 100% during the playoffs. It’s just hardcore action from start to finish. And when the home team wins a series, well people go crazy. Check out some of the images of the party that took place in Montreal two nights ago after the Canadiens beat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
#2 – Power plays and the penalty box. How great is the concept of one- or two-man advantages in sports? Imagine if basketball or baseball had that? That would just be awesome. And don’t get me started on the penalty box. You’re basically putting grown men in timeout. I love the concept so much I remember incorporating it at parties in college. If people got out of control we had an area taped off where they were only allowed bread and water until they regrouped and were ready to join the party. The penalty box is a concept I never get tired of.
#1 – Remember the Olympics. Come on, you remember that right? They just happened a couple months ago. Team USA almost won the gold medal. Remember Ryan Miller? Remember Team USA pulling their goalie to score that late goal sending the gold medal game into overtime? You liked that, nay, you loved that. And instead of playing for medals this time around, they’re playing for the best trophy ever made: the Stanley Cup. Can you even name the NBA Championship trophy? I can’t, and neither can half the NBA. The Stanley Cup is the Bentley of sports trophies. You don’t believe me? See it for yourself in the weeks to come and just promise me, promise me you’ll watch.