Addicted to Playoffs

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:
I have a confession to make: if there’s a championship on the line, I’ll probably be watching. And I bet you’re tuning in too. With the Dallas Mavericks capturing the NBA title on Sunday and the Boston Bruins skating the Stanley Cup Wednesday, it’s been a good two weeks of competition.

As the Cup finals wore on, the Bruins began to dominate — outscoring the Vancouver Canucks, 21-4, while winning four of the final five contests. It was a wild ride that rivals the tension and excitement of any championship series in recent memory. But it still had its share of surprise performances.

Boston’s David Krejci scored 12 goals in 25 playoff contests (he registered 13 goals in 75 regular-season games) and rookie teammate Brad Marchand notched nearly half as many points (19 in 25 postseason games) as he did during the regular season (41 points in 77 games). And who would have predicted that Henrik Sedin (fourth in the NHL with 94 points during the regular season) would have more penalty minutes (six) than points (one) during the finals?

Bruins’ hero Tim Thomas was equally great during the regular-season (2.00 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) and playoffs (1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage). Consider, though, that he wasn’t even the team’s starter at the beginning of the season and the 37-year-old goalie has only played in 319 regular-season games and 43 postseason contests. (As a means of comparison, Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo, 32, has played in 672 regular-season games and 59 postseason contests.)

Do you remember John Druce? As a member of the Washington Capitals during the 1990 playoffs, Druce scored 14 goals in 15 playoff games (with three assists and 23 penalty minutes) after notching just eight goals and three assists in 45 regular-season games. (He only scored three times in his 38 other career postseason games.)

Druce was so unknown that he spent 26 games with the AHL’s Baltimore Skipjacks that same season, registering 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists). The Caps got swept in the Conference Finals that year by the Bruins, but Druce’s legacy still lives.

The NBA finals weren’t too shabby, either. The obvious story line (Big Three vs. Team Redemption) dominated, but in the end, Dallas took control, although they weren’t as dominant as the Bruins. Three games were decided by three points or less, but the Mavs were able to win games five and six by nine and 10 points, respectively. (The Heat did capture game one by eight points.)

Raise your hand if you expected Jason Terry to outscore Dirk Nowitzki in game six. Or that Terry would outscore LeBron James for the entire series.

And that’s the best part about any postseason. It might be a virtuoso performance in one game (such as the Super Bowl or NCAA title game) or over a longer stretch. But, nearly every year, there’s at least one person who seemingly comes out of nowhere to dominate and, for folks like Druce, goes back into anonymity just as quickly.

When the Major League Baseball playoffs arrive in October, it’ll be time for another set of compelling games, unsung heroes and unlimited drama. And you can bet that I’ll be watching.

You can read more of Rob’s work at Storming the Crease.

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