Power-plays in the NHL playoffs? Not normally. No, in order for that to happen, a player would have to get tripped from behind on a break, or coldly sucker-punched to get a ref or linesman to put his arm in the air. To succeed in the NHL playoffs, a team used to have to clinch, scrape and claw their way across the ice; brutal crosschecks, butt-ends, slashes and, most commonly, punches after the whistle, separated the "men from the boys," or rather, the winners from the losers. It was the greatest spectacle in sports. Baseball, even in the World Series, is a slow game. The Super Bowl, as dramatically awesome as that is, only lasts three hours and the two finalists never get a chance to "run it back." The NBA Finals, of course (especially this year), brings out the best in the final two teams and makes for a wonderful sporting event, whether decided in four games or seven. However, not everyone is a basketball fan. Hockey on the other hand, at least ten years ago, would have gotten the average pacifist bookworm to jump up and down off his sofa, inventing profanities as he or she lacerated the air with their excitement. No matter the teams (whereas the NFL, MLB, and NBA suffer greatly in ratings when marquee matchups do not materialize for the championship), the Stanley Cup Finals made any casual observer into a life-long fan of the game played on ice. The players step up their game in the playoffs, so the pace and agility of the skating makes for frenetic sport; five years ago, the checking and grueling nature of competition made all male fans' girlfriends able to stick it out in front of the tube and for once, for once actually hang out and watch the game with her man - what an occasion! But not anymore.
Familiar with Claude Lemieux? The man was arguably the greatest postseason player in the history of the NHL. Were his career played in the present era, Lemieux would never have attained success, notoriety or even time on the ice. His actions (tough, brutal forechecking along the boards) would have landed him in the penalty box time after time, to the point of being benched and putting his team's playoff success in jeopardy. That is, if he played today. Today's NHL is a disgrace, and the recent Stanley Cup series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers proved just that.
It was devastating watching the series. Instead of seeing a fair and equal contest between the two hottest teams in the league, fans were forced to watch one long and miserable power play. How many goals in the final game were scored on a power play? What a joke. So much for hockey. NHL fans have to watch their teams get cheap (man-advantage) goals, or get scored on, thanks to being short-handed, killing another damn powerplay. The game is supposed to be five-on-five, but those moments seemed few and far between in this most recent 2010 NHL playoffs. Gary Bettman, on par with the other power-tripping commissioners of his day - Roger Goodell (the worst of the bunch), David Stern and Bud Selig, is to blame, and he would have to be interviewed a thousand times to give a reasonable answer as to why there is such (at present) a no-tolerance policy on the ice.
The last thing any fan wants to see is a player on their team getting severely injured due to a reckless play by an opposing player. But injury prevention did not dictate the refereeing travesty that took place during these playoffs. Ticky-tack penalties were the norm, occuring every five minutes, and keeping a solid game-flow from ever being created and good hockey from ever materializing. Man advantages and disadvantages does not make for good hockey and, in fact, has destroyed the game. What a painful, painful nightmare - this last Stanley Cup.