I moved here from Pittsburgh 10 years ago and figured with no NHL team in Northeast Ohio that the interest would be small.
I was wrong.
In our newsroom alone, we have fans of the league. They pull for the Red Wings, Flyers, Capitals, Rangers and, of course, the Penguins.
We live in southern Summit County and there are a number of kids who play hockey out of the rink near the Akron-Canton Airport.
So with that in mind, the NHL's second season better known as the playoffs begin tonight. I have tried to explain to people the excitement that builds throughout a playoff run. And I think the NHL is without peer.
Baseball playoffs are too few teams and too short to compare.
The NFL and NBA are too spread out.
The NHL, though, is pretty much every other night.
Following the Penguins through three Stanley Cups years are extremely memorable and I also remember them be extremely taxing.
Overtimes, with the sudden death format, also add to the experience.
So for those of you who are fans of all sports, I suggest picking a team in the playoffs and follow the series day to day. With Versus and NHL Network and the Internet, you can follow a team as if they played here in Cleveland.
My quick thoughts on the first round that starts tonight.
In the East
Washington-New York Rangers ... Too much firepower for Rangers to hold back Caps ... Go with Washington in six.
Philadelphia-Buffalo ... Ryan Miller, an American and Sabres goalie is outstanding ... Going with Buffalo in seven
Boston-Montreal ... An intense series that I don't have a feel for. Will go with Boston in seven because of home ice
Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay ... I worry about my Penguins without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but their stellar defense and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury give them the edge in six.
In the West.
Vancouver-Chicago ... This year's Cup favorite against last year's champion. ... There is always a huge surprise in the first round ... I am going with Blackhawks in seven ... this one can make me look like a genius or idiot.
San Jose-Los Angeles ... I like San Jose to make it to the Finals. Sharks in five.
Detroit-Phoenix ... Never count out the Red Wings. Detroit in six.
Anaheim-Nashville ... Two great defenses. This series will be intense and might be the best example of playoff hockey in the first round. Ducks in seven.