I want you to think back to the afternoon of April 15. It was the first day of the NHL playoffs, with the opening faceoff just hours away. Do you remember how you felt back then? Calm. Happy. Even peaceful. Look at you. You were so young back then.
And then the playoffs started, and you’ve been filled with rage ever since.
This is what the NHL playoffs do. They sucker you in with the promise of the world’s greatest sport being played by elite teams with win-or-go-home stakes. Then they sideswipe you with one controversy after another, some serious, but most ridiculous. This continues until you’ve spent so much time screaming at your television that it becomes self-aware and starts automatically switching you to something less exciting, like gardening shows, test patterns, and the NBA playoffs.
This year has been no exception. We’re not even done with the conference finals, and there have already been at least 20 controversies in the playoffs. (I say “at least” because the fun thing about this sort of list is that while 20 controversies seem like way too many, I’m sure there are at least a few I missed. I look forward to hearing from irate Blues fans who can’t believe I didn’t mention that faceoff violation call in Game 4.)
It’s probably a good idea to pause for a look at the list now, before we all lose track and/or get committed. So in chronological order, here are 20 of the controversies we witnessed, debated, and severed friendships and family ties over during the 2015 NHL playoffs.
1. Stick and Stone Might Microfracture Your Bone
When: April 15, in Game 1 of the Senators-Canadiens series. The playoffs were roughly an hour old when all hell broke loose. Or, as hockey fans call it, “a slow start.”
What: Midway through the second period, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban slashed Mark Stone in front of Montreal’s net. The Senators rookie immediately fell to the ice writhing in pain. Subban was ejected; Stone left but returned in time for the power play before missing further action in the game.
That’s the short version; we covered the incident in-depth when it happened. Senators fans saw a vicious, premeditated attempt to injure. Canadiens fans saw a standard front-of-the-net battle gone wrong, made notable mainly by a player embellishing an injury to draw a penalty.
The aftermath: The league saw a five-minute major and nothing more, declining to suspend Subban despite intense lobbying by the Senators, who announced that Stone had suffered a microfracture. After all, Subban is a star defenseman, and those guys just don’t get suspended during the playoffs. (That sound you hear is every Detroit Red Wings fan putting their fist through their monitor.)