I LOVE The Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Patrick Hoffman

**Drafted on April 25**

I absolutely LOVE the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially the first round.

The first round might actually be the best round in the entire postseason. Yes, I realize the Cup Final is also awesome, but the first round has a ton to offer.

For starters, there is hockey on TV every single night. Days do not get skipped and night in and night out on multiple sports' channels, you are able to watch hockey at the most exciting time of the season.

Secondly, there are usually a few upsets in the first round. The way the first round went this year is a perfect example of that.

The best team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, are out. The best team in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames, are out. Other contenders such as the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, and Winnipeg Jets are all out as well.

There is also a ton of excitement when the first round starts. For the 16 teams that make it, it's a new slate to start the "second season" and it's a chance for teams to show what they are truly made of.

With the first round out of the way, the excitement and tension is going to ramp up. For the eight teams that are left, there are 12 victories standing between them and hockey's Holy Grail.

Defensive play is going to tighten up. Teams are going to do everything they can to stay out of the box and they will also doing everything to make smart decisions both with and without the puck.

This will lead to very exciting hockey because everything that happens will have a ton of meaning. A mistake here and a big play there could determine who moves on to the Conference Finals and ultimately the Final.

It's the best time of year folks. Based on the way the first round went, the hockey going forward should be outstanding.

Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave. 

He has previously covered the league for WTP SportsSportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.