Boston Bruins’ right winger Nathan Horton has been ruled out for the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals due to a severe concussion as a result of a malicious late hit to the head by Vancouver Canucks’ defenseman Aaron Rome. This is a huge loss for Boston. Horton has scored 17 points (8 goals and 9 assists) this post-season including 2 game-winning goals, both coming in Game 7′s. In fact, Horton is the only player in NHL history to score 2 game-winners in two different Game 7′s. Big-time names like Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci to name a few must step-up and fill the void left by the 26 year-old Horton. Aaron Rome, on the other hand, will meet with the NHL later this morning and is expected to receive a 1 or 2 game suspension for his blatantly unwarranted, late hit to the head. In my opinion, Rome should be suspended for the rest of the Finals, especially considering he has been a repeat offender. Nonetheless, we should have a great series from here on out as the Bruins showed their not going to go out quietly, exemplified by a 8 – 1 thrashing of the Canucks last night in Game 3.
With the NHL regular season about to come to end I thought it was necessary to show some love for the most underappreciated of the 4 major sports leagues. Year after year the race for the playoffs in both conferences come down to the final handful of games and this year is no different. The Eastern Conference has 5 teams battling it out for the final 3 spots with the Canadiens, Sabres, and Rangers holding onto the 6, 7, and 8 seeds respectively. The Western Conference is even tighter as only 9 points separate the 4th seeded Kings from the 10th seeded Stars. The defending champion Blackhawks are currently holding onto the 8th and final seed in the West with both the Flames and Stars nipping at their heels. What makes the race even crazier is the fact that only 4 points separate the Kings and the Blackhawks with 4-5 games left to play. Conceivably, the defending champs could jump 4 spots in only a matter of a handful of games.
All the hype (and rightly so) around March Madness and the Cinderellas of the NCAA Tournament has taken most of the attention away from what in my opinion is definitely one of the most competitive times of the year in any sport, the NHL Playoffs. The NHL Postseason is unlike any other. The quality of play combined with the level of intensity and desire of each and every player on the ice is truly what makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs one of the best times of the sports year.