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NHL Playoffs: The 49ers of Hockey…

It has been 49 years since Chicago’s professional hockey team, The Blackhawks, have won North America’s oldest professional sports trophy, The Stanley Cup.  On May 29th the Blackhawks will start an up to seven game series against the Philadelphia Flyers for an opportunity to throw that monkey off their backs.  What makes this series interesting is that Philadelphia and Chicago are both huge sports towns and these teams are rife with history. The Blackhawks are one of the original 6 NHL teams founded in 1926 and the Flyers were part of the first NHL expansion in 1967 (Pro sports leagues undergo periodic expansions where they add new teams.  It’s a complex process with lots of money involved).  Despite having the second highest all-time winning percentage in the NHL, the Flyers have not won a Stanley cup in 35 years.  The bottom line is, in the brutal sport of hockey when two major sports towns are competing for a title neither which have attained in decades, its worth following sports guy or not.
One liner: “49 years is nothing for a Chicago sport fan.” – referring to the fact that the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a baseball World Series Championship since 1908.

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The Basics

-The Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in four straight games to secure their spot in the NHL Finals.

-The Philadelphia Flyers are Beat the Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

NHL Play-offs: The National Hockey League has 30 teams organized into two conferences, western and eastern, with each conference having three divisions.  The NHL originated in Canada, although most teams are American.  The winner of the NHL’s play-offs is awarded the Stanley Cup, named after Lord Stanley of Canada when he donated a cup to the best Canadian hockey team.  Many people have gripes about NHL’s play-off system because over half of the teams make the play-offs (16 of 30) after an 82 game regular season.


Lord Stanley’s Mug: Another name for the Stanley Cup. 
Ice – Refers to the ice rink where the games are played.

Zamboni: A machine that resurfaces the ice rink before and during breaks in a hockey game.  It is said that many Canadians’ retirement dream is to drive the Zamboni for their local NHL team.

Penalty Box: Where a player sits after he commits a penalty.  A team must play down a player until the penalty time has expired.

Icing: An infraction where a team strikes the puck and it crosses two red lines without anybody touching the puck.  The rule prevents an inferior team from just playing only defense and blasting the puck to the other end whenever they get a chance to hit it.