The monstrocity that is Zdeno Chara triumphantly lifted the Cup, becoming the first player to hoist hockey's holy grail and cause onlookers to wonder if, perhaps, he routinely drinks from a cup of that size. Nevertheless, Chara let out a gut-rumbling cry as he raised Lord Stanley to the heavens like it was the Crown of a vested King, fallen at the hands of a giant Medieval Warrior.
These 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs were intensely physical from the first drop of the puck, and it's safe to say that there were plenty of surprises – even though we're all well aware of hockey's inherently unpredictable nature. That's what often keeps us from jumping ship when our team hits a rough patch, or when a player falls into a slump; there's always hope that things will turn around. I looked around for a single person who predicted that the Bruins would win the Cup when the playoffs started, and I couldn't find anyone. That's our game – You've gotta love it.
Hockey is constantly evolving, with better training techniques, changes to the rules (some good, some bad), and perpetual improvements made to players' gear. Sticks, arguably, have been changing more rapidly than any other single piece of equipment. Every year, we see dozens of new models hit the market with tweaks and modifications made to give the player a competitive edge. When someone is doing it right, you can't help but notice.
I recently wrote a review of the Easton Synergy EQ50 Hockey Stick, and if you give it a read you'll pretty quickly figure out how impressed I was with it. I must not have been the only one pleased with the direction that Easton is heading with their new sticks, as well as their protective gear and skates. If you glanced out on the rink at any point during the playoffs, you probably wouldn't have been able to catch a single shift where there wasn't at least one player on the ice with an Easton product.
Easton gave us some compelling stats from the 2011 NHL Playoffs: