In this week's Sports Illustrated, award-winning writer Steve Rushin offers a hypothesis on which hockey enthusiasts are sure to agree: There's no postseason like the NHL's postseason. From the shaggy beards to the thrilling Game 7s to the enduring institution that is the handshake line, the NHL playoffs bring traditions with which other sports simply cannot compete.
"And so it goes," Rushin writes, "on a nightly basis for eight consecutive weeks, the speeding and the bleeding, making the Stanley Cup playoffs the most intense short-term spectacle in all of sports, a symphony for foghorn, swallowed whistle and dentist drill."
The national cover story is accompanied by two SI covers featuring action shots from the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins as well as the Western Conference Finals showdown between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. See both full covers below.
For more on why hockey's postseason trumps all others, check out Allan Muir's list of the 20 things that make the NHL playoffs the best, subscribe to Sports Illustrated or purchase the tablet edition of this week's magazine.