The Spring of Goals?
Lord knows, I wasn't sure these eyes would ever see a 6-5 game in the Stanley Cup playoffs again.
Happily, I was wrong.
Monday night's wild 6-5 double OT victory by the Montreal Canadiens over the Carolina Hurricanes was a thoroughly entertaining and thrilling contest. While it was the extreme, however, it wasn't the exception in a playoff year that is starting out very, very differently from the way the 2004 playoffs ended.
That year's final between Tampa Bay and Calgary included only 27 goals in seven games, an average of 3.8 goals per game in what was a mutual exhibition of holding and hooking.
In Monday's four playoff games alone, there were 35 goals. Tuesday, there were another 31.
The worst part of the '04 final was that over the course of the series, the team that scored first won every game. There wasn't one, single comeback.
In terms of entertainment, fans in those two cities might have loved it, but it was the lowest the NHL had sunk to in terms of a fun and entertaining product.
This spring, happily, has been very different.
So far, 20 games over four nights have included:
Clearly, the speed and intensity of competition is up and the hitting has been ferocious, yet the determination of the league to stand by its new rules standard is helping to create a more open, interesting game.
The incredible part is that some teams and some players are still under the impression that the rules are going to change. Players are still reaching out to hook a player on the arms from behind, and then throwing up their arms in disbelief when the whistle is blown.
But it's the referees who should be the disbelieving ones. After all, they've been making the same call all year long.
Those who would have the league return to the days of 2-1, 3-2, 2-0 results in virtually every playoff game might not like what they're seeing. They'd love to go back to the rodeo where the checkers, under the stupid "let the players play" credo were the heroes every night.
But those who would take the game back to that are in the minority.
Actually, they always were.