Reliving the 10 most memorable moments from the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Don't get it twisted: while the regular season in the NHL is surely important, fans yearn for playoff hockey. Enduring the tough 82-game slate that spans seven months can be a tall task for any puck enthusiast - even if you're armchair coaching like the rest of us.
However, if you were able to maintain mental stability and hold your nerve long enough to enjoy the entire postseason, this year's passage of teams battling it out for the Stanley Cup provided some of the best plays, moments, and highlights our great game has to offer.
Despite an opening round that provided two sweeps, two five-game series, and only one seven-gamer, the 2018 postseason was one to remember. Without further ado, let's relive the best moments:
Andersen robs Pastrnak with the paddle
Arguably the best series of the first round, the Boston Bruins were having their way with the Toronto Maple Leafs up until this point. Enter Leafs netminder Freddy Andersen, who went full beast mode from Game 3 on. Case in point was this save he turned in late in the third period with the Bruins pressing.
David Krejci fed it into the corner for David Pastrnak, who loaded up and fired it into what appeared to be a yawning cage. With the flick of a stick, Andersen streaked cross-crease to stone Pastrnak with the paddle, preserving the victory for Toronto.
Ovechkin bats in game-winner vs. Penguins
Like he did all year long, Ovechkin wowed the crowd on this play, streaking up the ice for a two-on-one with Nicklas Backstrom before ringing his shot off the post. Ovi stayed as cool as a cucumber and batted his own rebound out of midair and past Matt Murray.
The patience and hand-eye were seriously impressive, but the awesome celly at the end cemented Ovechkin's eventual game-winner as one the best of the playoffs.
Rinne's insane knob stop vs. Jets
Not many adjectives in the English dictionary can properly describe what happened in this sequence, so let your eyes do the work for you. Just understand that Pekka Rinne's robbery of Josh Morrissey in the Predators-Jets second-round series was seriously ridiculous.
The man used the knob of his stick ... to make the save ... along the ice. Nuts. If not for the sublime saves further down our list, Rinne's wizardry against the Jets would surely be the stop of the postseason.
Brad Marchand's licking/kissing
Look, everyone can agree that Bruins forward Brad Marchand kissing and licking opponents' faces wasn't exactly good for the game. But, come on, nothing fun or out of the norm like that has ever happened in hockey. And watching opponents become enraged or grossed out with Marchand's greasy face in their beaks was actually freaking hilarious.
Marchand and the Bruins have already admitted the licking and kissing antics need to be cut out immediately. But dirty or not, Marchand and his tongue were one of the most memorable moments of the playoffs.
Forsberg between the legs - twice
The Nashville Predators fell short of their ultimate goal, and after entering the playoffs as Cup favorites, the offseason is sure to be a bitter and long one. However, the fact Filip Forsberg turned in, arguably, the two nicest goals in recent memory should help ease the sting of disappointment.
NOTE: Girard is still looking for his missing jockstrap.
Or was his second against the Jets in the second round even better?
Either way, Forsberg has clearly mastered the art of scoring clutch, highlight-reel goals - both of these were true treats. Wash your hands of the filth accordingly.
Another phenomenon of the 2018 playoffs needing little explanation was the Winnipeg whiteout. Witnessing postseason hockey in the 'Peg has quickly developed into a must-see live event. Fans from the last row of Bell MTS Centre all the way down to the glass were clad head to toe in white for every Jets home game.
With the intense atmosphere in the building and the thousands of rabid fans outside, Winnipeg showed the entire hockey world their passion, making their home games a true spectacle.
Fleury makes back-to-back game-savers
That statement was never more true than in the Knights' third-round series against the Jets. Fleury robbed Mark Schiefele in the third period of Game 3 on back-to-back shots to keep the score at 3-2, preserving the win and, in turn, the series.
Golden Knights' pregame performances
OK, so they were a little tacky. And maybe just a bit predictable. But hockey pregames usually consist of boring interviews and cheesy organ music. At least the performances for the Knights' home games came with a bit of showmanship.
Plus, watching a dude in full armor brandishing a sword on the ice was worth the price of admission on its own.
Holtby turns tide of Cup Final by stoning Tuch
At the time of the stop, Vegas was up in the series and breathing down the Caps' collective neck to draw level in Game 2. Holtby then slammed the door on the contest and series, going on to beat the Knights in a neat-and-tidy five games.
The save was monumentally huge, and beautiful to boot.
The Great 8 finally gets his