a beginner’s guide to the NHL playoffs.

For those of you new to the majesty and intrigue of the National Hockey League, the NHL playoff system might be confusing. While our country’s football league playoffs take approximately six hours, the NHL prefers to heighten the Excitement and Drama by stretching the process over the course of several days, months and/or years.

Right now, you are probably on the edge of your seat with Anticipation,* for this is the point in the season when things really Pick Up. Yes, in just short of six months, one lucky North American  US city will be awarded Lord Stanley’s Cup, which, when referred to in the possessive, sounds much more disgusting and far less desirable than the actual trophy.

But how excited should you be, Hockey Fan? To determine your favored team’s chances, ask yourself the following questions:
1.  Do I live in Montreal?
If yes, is it the mid 70s-to-early 80s?
If no, better luck next year.

2. Does my team currently have less than 40 points in the League standings?
If yes, dear Ohioan, shift your allegiance a bit further east to Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.

3.  Are there freakish identical twin redheads on my team?
If yes, do not make direct eye contact, even if the game is televised. THEY CAN SEE YOU AND THEY ARE WATCHING. Also, odds are in your team’s favor.

4. Am I able to pronounce easily the last names of more than 75% of my team’s roster?
If yes, were you born in a former Eastern Bloc nation / the Soviet Union / Scandinavia?
If no, do you speak fluent Russian, Czech or Swedish?
If no, better luck next year.

If, after answering this brief questionnaire, you feel that your team’s outlook is bleak at best, you needn’t fret: The odds are still decent that they will make the Top 29 and thus, advance to the First Round of the playoffs.

But then what?

At the close of the Regular Season, a simple bracket system is created to determine each team’s advancement through fifty-three rounds of play, each increasing in difficulty with each passing month. Once a team progresses through the Regular Double -Blind Round-Robin Elimination Rounds and completes the quest through the Enchanted Gorlok Forest, they compete in the Semi-Finals.

During the Semi-Final death matches, teams will battle each other in the 25 Heures du l’Hockey, an endurance test akin to Le Mans, but on ice. Also, the goalies are blindfolded.

The Championship Series is next, during which teams must compete wearing skates that have been dulled by the soft ice, which is melting because it’s already fucking June. Here, the goalies’ glove hands are bound behind their back with electrical cable tied to a blasting cap. Also, the blasting cap has already been inserted into the explosive charge.** This round is often referred to as The Race Against Time.

The victors are at last crowned in a ceremony that takes place in their city’s most riotous neighborhood. If 22 members of the 23-man roster are able to make it from the playing venue to the ceremony, the Cup is ultimately theirs. Also, a mix of wild boars and drunk fans of the opposing team armed with AR15s have been unleashed in the streets.

At this, the playoffs come to a close.

But do not fear, Hockey Fan! Pre-season will begin again in three short days!

*and/or hemorrhoids.
** if this makes no sense, blame Wikipedia. And my short attention span. Or my cut-and-past skills. Or a combination of all three.

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