Playoff hockey is the most entertaining form of any sport around and I will not hear anything otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, no matter which sport you’re watching, playoff games always get the adrenaline pumping a little more. The stress of knowing that all it takes is one loss and the fate of your team drastically changes is both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
Everything said about these sports will be viewed through a playoff lens. But not all playoffs are created equal.
Let’s start with the NFL. Football is arguably the most popular sport in the country right now. Viewership is at an all time high and the league is essentially printing money. Obviously playoff football is extremely gripping, you’d be a fool to say otherwise. The players seem to hit a little harder, run a little faster and block a little tougher. But there’s still a very big difference between that and playoff hockey.
Big pass plays are some of the most thrilling moments in football right? It’s a different type of thrill than that of a hockey game though.
You watch the quarterback drop back to pass and launch it up and deep. You have anywhere from 3-6 seconds to watch the flight of the ball and see the play unfold before you finally get to the climax. And normally that’s not even the end of the play. It’s the same thing with a long run. You watch the entire play unfold and the anticipation builds up until it reaches its pinnacle. Not the same instant gratification like you get in hockey though.
The potential to get bounced from the dance with one loss is extremely stressful though. That alone makes the NFL playoffs almost an enjoyable as the NHL. Almost.
Now let’s go to basketball. Lots of scoring so you’d think it’s always exciting right? Well, with all that scoring, you become numb to lead changes or when teams go on runs unless it’s late in the game. In the NBA, the only real dramatic, edge of your seat part of a game is at the start of the 4th quarter. Maybe late in the 3rd if you’re lucky. But other than that, when are you really on the edge of your seat during a playoff basketball game?
Not to mention, the NBA has become borderline unwatchable now with how many fouls get called. It disrupts the pace of play, and for that reason alone, NBA playoffs will never reach the level of NHL playoffs.
And with so many stoppages in play, there are plenty of times to take bathroom breaks. I will tell you one thing for sure, bathroom breaks during playoff hockey are scarce.
Lastly we have the MLB. Listen, I love baseball. Always have. It was my childhood sport growing up and it’ll always have a place in my heart. But let’s be honest, playoff baseball really doesn’t have any special feel to it whatsoever. You get some nail-biting moments when its a full count with the bases loaded or your guy is trying to score from second on a ground ball through the hole, but still, there is a TON of down time in professional baseball. It definitely has it’s moments, but comparing baseball to hockey is just so asinine that I won’t even try.
Finally, this brings me to hockey. Watching a hockey game brings out the most visceral, primal reactions you could ever imagine. It’s not like the other sports where you can kind of see the entire play developing for the most part. We’re talking consistent bang bang plays here.
A 0-0 NHL game can turn into a 2-0 game in literally 30 seconds. I’ve seen it happen. It’s incredible. There is legitimately no time to look away or run to the kitchen or anything. I was writing a blog while watching the Bruins a few days ago and I looked down for 4 seconds to type something and missed a goal. That’s how quick shit happens.
In any of the other sports, you can look away or run to the other room and miss the very beginning of a moment, but in most cases get back in time to watch the end. Not in hockey though. It takes one second for a puck to hit the back of the net. Literally.
You’re on your seat from when the puck drops to the final buzzer. The pace of play in a constant one. There are no peaks and valleys in action. It is a constant state of back and forth until finally a team breaks the ice (pun heavily intended) and scores. And the fact that goals are not as common as scores in other leagues, it makes that moment even more gratifying.
The sounds I make when the Bruins score are noises that no other sport elicits. Since a goal can happen in the blink of an eye, you don’t have a moment to sit there and let the excitement build. It’s one quick yell, pump of the fist or whatever else you involuntarily do.
You take a sport that already consistently has you white knuckled the entire time, add on the aura and intensity of the playoffs, and you get hands down the most engaging, stimulating sport you can imagine.