THE PAST TWO MONTHS of playoff hockey have been awesome—overtime games seemingly every other night, Game 7s, amazing comebacks, intense rivalries. The past week or so, as my beloved Rangers have faced the Kings in the finals, has been even better. Every ounce of drama, stress and excitement came out in the first two games, both Kings wins in overtime (page 32). Fans have been riveted, watching every pass, holding their breath on every hit, crossing their fingers on every face-off. Not a fan? Turn on the games, and I guarantee you'll get into them.
You might see a player in another sport play with a broken jaw. But in what other sport will that player embrace the opponent who broke his jaw, as the Rangers' Derek Stepan did with the Canadiens' Brandon Prust in the handshake line after the Eastern Conference finals? When I played in the NFL, if a guy delivered a cheap shot, hugging him was the last thing on my mind.
Then there are players like Martin St. Louis, who at 38 is the oldest and at 5'8" one of the shortest guys in the finals. In Game 2, St. Louis cruised toward the net as a pass came toward him. It was a bit too far in front of him, but in one motion he angled his body, crouched so one knee was almost touching the ice and fired the puck into the top corner.
Unbelievable plays like that happen every game—multiple times. If you're not watching the Stanley Cup finals, you're missing out.
SIX FOR POP
Gift ideas in six words or less
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THEY SAID IT
"I've been living out of a bag and eating a bunch of hotel Philly cheesesteaks."
Former Ole Miss guard on his relocation to Philadelphia as he preps for a pro career.
TAYLOR HILL/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES (ESIASON)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HOCKEY)
Goal Setting Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals went to double overtime, where the Kings won 5--4.
DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HENDERSON)