May 14, 2014
NHL playoff hockey is probably the most intense and physically demanding team sport in the world. No other sport can claim the speed, power, agility and endurance needed to play in a playoff atmosphere. You can watch the whole regular season and not see what you see in the playoffs. Every check into the boards, power play and shot on goal gets contested with a higher speed and tenacity than the regular season displays. The teams play all season long to get into the brutal playoff tournament in which 16 games most be won to hoist the championship cup.
Many surveys and studies have been done to determine which team sport is the toughest and many of the results are the same, its hockey. Many of you would say football but that type of strength and toughness is usually displayed as brute force. In hockey the speed and power must also utilize creativity and skill. Take for instance, those players and defenders maneuvering a puck around the goal, in many times it appears like a bunch of guys flailing away with sticks and elbows. The strength and powerful legs and core needed to fend off players while trying to guide a puck is a unique skill set. Of course, being on ice skates make the whole operation that much harder and faster.
The playoff tournament in the NHL brings out the emotional level to a fever pitch as well. Remember, hockey is the only sport where you can punch someone in the face and only have to sit in a penalty box for a few minutes. Even though teams try to avoid fights, the physicality and toughness is part of the game where one team tries enforcing its will. The beatings that teams take are what really separate it from the other team sports. Not one player escapes without getting poked, jabbed, tripped, and punched and at least once at match.
The winner of the Stanley Cup usually has ridden the fortunes of their goalie. It has been said that the goalies are among the finest athletes on their teams. The speed, agility and flexibility are the prime sources of their success. Their hand eye coordination must be extraordinary to endure the rush in the playoffs. The scrums that evolve in front of the goal are like a mob riot and the goalie must see all of the strategy and puck movement through the chaos to give himself superior position to the shooter.
When a winner is crowned in the NHL, they have endured a multitude of obstacles and trials. The regular season is already long when preseason starts in September and the Lord Stanley Cup is awarded in June. Your body is physically worn down; you’re mentally fatigued and you are sporting injuries that need to heel. The satisfaction comes with the battle that has been won with your team and coaches. After the final game, the teams shake hands because they know what is takes to withstand this type of sport, the sport they love.