These NHL Playoffs have been off to a weird start. The mighty Tampa Bay Lightning were swept, and the playoff hardened Pittsburgh Penguins got the broom as well. Even with the two sure-fire teams being ousted, things in the playoffs got even more insane when all the wild card teams who seemingly sneaked into the playoffs, won their first round (Pending Carolina). It is opposite day in the NHL, or is there a reason behind the madness?
Well we can deduce that it is not opposite day in the NHL because the Maple Leafs lost in the 1st round, again. Perhaps there is actual method to the playoff madness.
It’s not really ground breaking news to say a team that goes into the playoffs hot is going to do well and visa versa the other way. However; there are some exceptions, like having a better roster and playing better hockey all year round much like the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning did. These clubs just lacked the mental prowess that it took to be a winning playoffs team, which is strange to say because they had the winning mentality for an entire season.
Remember the mighty 2007 New England Patriots, who went 16-0 and then lost to the 10-6 New York Giants in the Super Bowl? Ya that’s where i’m going, teams that struggle together, build together, and learn together. Without adversity there is no growth, that’s probably a famous saying somewhere but it’s true for any professional team.
Hockey is no exception, take one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs in the Colorado Avalanche. This team went from December 17th to February 14th, with 4 wins. They played 23 games, and won 4 of them. Now they are in the 2nd round of the playoffs, after beating the best team in the west in 5 games. I’m not trying to say superior teams should lose on purpose to gain some sort of false commendatory within the locker room, but teams without a mental toughness will always lose in high pressure situations. Nothing creates mental toughness then having to overcome mid-season struggles.